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How I Conquered the “Dreaded” Community College

By Catherine Tran

There is a widely-known expression in Vietnamese that reads: ”Life has a way of testing your resilience, therefore we must prepare for the worst”. I never truly grasped the meaning of this until the summer leading to my freshman year at college when my father said, “Catherine, I cannot afford to send you to college.” His shocking declaration came when I was less than two months away from departing for UC Irvine. Instead of celebrating my acceptance, I was overwhelmed with the pressure to adapt to my new situation, an admission into a Community College. This abrupt change in direction left me devastated; in an instant, my path towards university was halted and I had to quickly reroute.

When I made the decision to “just go to community college”, I internalized so much self-doubt, shame, and disappointment. The people who surrounded me were constantly projecting the idea that community college was the bottom of the educational hierarchy, as if my journey to be successful was illegitimate unless I attended a four-year university. Instead of mourning something beyond my control, I shifted my perspective and viewed community college as a blessing in disguise– an opportunity to build a strong academic foundation and solidify my passion in web design.

I have put forth diligent effort in all my classes, in turn receiving high marks, and fostering enriching relationships with my classmates and professors. Outside the classroom, I dedicate myself to helping other students succeed by ensuring that their needs, wants, and concerns are being addressed. Being selected as a peer mentor has been the most rewarding and impactful experience as it allows me to empower and motivate other students by sharing my story of how I transformed a challenging life event into a humbling, positive experience.

Although my path towards university was derailed, I optimized my college experience and never lost sight of my academic goals. This experience taught me to be flexible with given circumstances and maintain focus. I approach tough situations with objectivity and determination and turn them into positive opportunities for change. In essence, my experience at Ohlone College helped me develop the tenacity to overcome future challenges and flourish.

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Catherine Tran, Cat to her friends, is a second-year student at Ohlone College intending to major in Cognitive Science and Media. She has served in the GT20’s student advisory council for over three years. During her free time she enjoys watching funny YouTube videos, reading personal development blogs, and going ham on the karaoke machine.

Feature Image Courtesy: www.pexels.com

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