A message to the 'scholastic underdogs'

Are you that community college student that did not have the best grades in high school, which practically forced you to attend a community college? After you graduated high school, did you watch all your friends move forward with their lives as they attended big universities, while you went to a community college? Did this make you feel like you were missing out on the college experience that you’ve always wanted? Well, you’re not alone. I am here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

There is still hope to get into a four-year university regardless of how poorly someone has done in high school — that is right, a second chance.

Three out of every 10 Californians, age 18-24, are currently enrolled in a community college, according to a California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment statement. I was part of that 30 percent, and, admittedly, I was not too happy about it at first.

Throughout high school, I never had the best work ethic or took school seriously, which affected my grades and resulted in me getting denied to every university I applied to; getting bad grades was a horrible feeling, but getting denied to all the universities I applied to was even worse.

The first couple weeks attending Santa Monica College was exciting in many ways, such as living on my own and starting a new chapter of my life. However, as time went on, I would see all my friends I graduated high school with having so much of a better time than I was at their universities that they attended.

Although community colleges have great programs and an education system that can further help students transfer to a four-year university, nobody wants to be stuck at a community college forever — I sure did not.

As I attended SMC, I never got the experience of living in a dorm room, meeting tons of new people, or even going to “real” college parties. As many community college students can relate, this made me feel that my life was, in a way, “put on hold” by not attending a four-year university and not getting the college experience that all my friends were having.

There was something missing and I wanted to do something about it. Ultimately, that feeling motivated me to take school seriously to earn the grades required to transfer. Much of my interest in the University of Arizona, which is the college I now attend, I can credit to SMC's college fair, an event that just recently happened on April 23.

At the event I met Gil Gastelum, a representative for UA, and, because of how he talked to me about his school, I fell in love with it.

With every phone call I made to Gastelum for more information about UA, and going to SMC's walk-in academic advising provided almost every other day, the possibility of me transferring to a university became more and more realistic. I knew it was not going to be easy, especially since I did not consider myself to be book smart. From spending Friday and Saturday nights at home doing homework to countless hours at the library, my life was consumed by schoolwork driven by my desire to attend UA.

In just one year, and a 3.0 GPA, all my hard work paid off — I was accepted for transfer to UA for Fall 2012. I am currently a sophomore majoring in business management.

I was never the smartest kid in school growing up, nor did I get the best grades. For many of you who can relate to that, believe me when I say that hard work does pay off.

Many students get discouraged being at a community college and tend to give up. But, for all of you thinking about transferring and do not think you are smart enough, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. A student's greatest weakness lies in giving up; the desire to succeed and the urge to reach your full potential are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.