I am a first-generation college student. Neither of my parents completed high school. It has always been a challenge for me to let them know how important school is. They came from Mexico at a young age. My father dropped out of high school because his family wanted him to work in the fields and make money. He learned English and got a job, which he has had for the past 23 years. Education is important for me. I don't want to work in a low-paying, hard-labor job for the rest of my life, like my father. I have spent several summers working with him, and I know firsthand how difficult it is. Education is my way of crossing out that option. I want a career.
When I started college, I came into it with the same mentality as of a high school student. I came to school, fooled around with friends, made friends my priority, and went home. I didn't really take it seriously until I started noticing my grades decline and a suspension letter from the college. I knew that I had to turn myself around and take advantage of the federal student aid money I was getting.
In 2011, I became involved in school programs and clubs. I managed to get an on-campus job at the Student Life office and have retained it for the past year and a half. I became one of 10 student ambassadors selected to work at campus events and to give tours to new and prospective students. I am also proud to have been a student council committee member, representing students in meetings we have regarding financial issues. This past winter quarter, I was elected vice president of the council. As vice president, it was my duty to hear my constituents and address their concerns. The clubs I attended were the Math Club, Art Club, Business Club and I attended the Ethnic Student Association club as a guest.
The more involved I became on campus, the better my grades got. As I began spending more time on campus, it allowed me to spend more time on my studies, concentrate on my homework, and ask questions. I was also able to identify resources that were free for me. For example, my advisor was able to help me shape an idea of what it is that I wanted out of my Whatcom Community College education.
As a leader, I have learned how to be more adaptable especially in an ever-changing college environment. Reaching out to students is something I really enjoy. You can never know too many people in a college setting. Everyone is unique and you never know what you can learn from other people. Each person has a story, unique background, character and personalities, and by listening to people, you might learn something about yourself. It's these small things that I notice that make me really understand where a person is coming from. Also, my organizational skill improved. I was able to manage my ever-growing and changing schedule to meet demands. These skills made me better in identifying and solving problems. My studies also improved because I was better able to concentrate and cared more about the importance of homework and education.
ABOUT WINDOW ON MY WORLD
Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Gonzalez was born in Bellingham and lives in Everson. After graduating from Whatcom Community College with an Associate in Arts and Sciences degree, he will pursue a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, with a focus on finance. He has been accepted to Western Washington University and Central Washington University and has also applied to Gonzaga. At Whatcom, 83 percent of degree- and certificate-seeking students are pursuing transfer degrees.