Student Success Stories Student Success Stories

Emily Lang      Emily

As a single mother of four children working a series of dead end jobs, I knew that I needed to make better life choices that would enable me to better support my children. With the help of a support group and after a unique set of unfortunate circumstances, I decided to attend Columbia College in the Fall of 2011. When I started it was a pure act of desperation, but after a while, a college degree became an attainable goal. I enrolled in EOPS in the Fall of 2013 because I lost the support of a retraining program that bought my books. EOPS and CARE have helped me beyond financial support. Each time I meet with an academic counselor they help me to reflect on my journey and take the next step toward my goal. Just as importantly, they encourage me to look at my accomplishments and motivate me to continue making positive choices. I hope to graduate in the Spring with an Associate of Arts degree for transfer in Communications. My goal is to work in women’s support issues with an emphasis on advocacy and service work. If it were not for the support of special programs, I would not be confident enough to pursue this path that will allow me to give back to my community. The entire process of receiving an education helps me to be a person that I am proud to look at in the mirror.

 Aubrey Walker     Aubrey

Most people live in the same house for their entire life, or at least in the same town. Not me, by the time I was 16 I lived in 18 different homes all over California. Since I moved so much I also went to many schools. My education was always put on the back burner because I had other things to take care of. By the end of my freshmen year I had a GPA of about 0.68. By the time high school graduation came along I had been in four different high schools, but by the end of my senior year something changed in me. I had been enrolled in Sonora high school for two consecutive years, which is longer than any school since grade school. Before I went to Sonora I felt lost in our educational system. My Junior and Senior year of high school I held a 3.86 GPA. When high school was over I did not expect to go to college, neither of my parents did, so I didn’t think I needed too. Deep down I knew college was the right choice, I mean I watched my grandmother go to college while raising me, why couldn’t I do it?  Looking back now, I am so glad I did. I enrolled in First Semester Experience where I learned hands on what college was going to take. I found a thirst for knowledge that first semester. By the end of it I was enrolled in EOPS and was offered a job through the AAC. Me a tutor? Never in a million years. Now I am on my fourth semester here taking full advantages of programs.  By focusing on my academics and using study skills, I’m excited to currently have a 3.86 GPA; a huge improvement from my high school years!!  I’m now considering my transfer options.  I’m thinking about a career in law or a career in counseling; both sound great!!

Brad Sullivan      Brad

Hello, my name is Brad Sullivan, and I came to Columbia College in the fall of 2013. During my first semester here, I discovered that I love to learn. This realization occurred when I took my first political science class that semester. It was the most difficult course I had ever taken, but I fell in love with the subject. From that moment on, I knew that I was meant to be a Political Science major. After doing more research on the subject, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in law.

At the end of my first semester, I became interested in becoming more involved on campus, which I initially thought to be an impossible task. I started off by joining EOP&S, and soon after this I joined TRiO. I truly enjoyed the enrichment and new sense of community that I felt after joining these programs, and wanted to give back. I began doing this by getting a job on campus as a peer mentor, and by winning a spot as an ASCC senator. After this I became a tutor for the AAC and gained new office as the ASCC director of club affairs. I have found these positions to be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, and I will always be grateful for these opportunities. I couldn’t get enough of being involved, so I created a political science club and became the president of that club. During this time I was also very busy campaigning to become the ASCC president. I ended up winning the election and will continue to serve as the ASCC president until July of 2016.

It is now my fifth semester here at Columbia, and I am on my way to apply for transfer this fall (of 2015) to hopefully gain acceptance to one of my dream schools in the fall of 2016. Without the support of all the professors, Special Programs, and staff here at Columbia College, I know I could not have achieved any of this and that I would not be the person I am today. Columbia has changed me in a way I could have never imagined.

Monica Aldabi      Monica

When I began, I was lost. I had goals, but did not know how to achieve them, and I was missing a sense of community. Thankfully, I joined TRiO and EOPS, and found involvement on campus by becoming a student worker as a peer mentor for TRiO and tutor for the Academic Achievement Center. Eventually, I also had the opportunity to become a part of student government and I now serve as vice president.

Columbia College has given me the opportunity to learn both in academics, as well as about myself. With the help of caring professors, advisors, and counselors I was able to discover my passion for Psychology and come up with a plan to apply this love towards a fulfilling future.  I am now on track to earn an Associates of Arts for Transfer in Psychology and transfer to a university next year. Someday, I hope to use my knowledge to open a personal and marriage counseling practice.

EOPS has given me tools to become successful that I do not know what I would have done without. I have taken advantage of my priority registration and counseling. These have been especially helpful, as I had no idea what I needed to obtain my goals. I also benefitted greatly from the book vouchers and gas cards. Most importantly though, I have gotten an amazing support system. The people who are in EOPS truly care about students, and it shows.  I have learned to be an advocate for myself, and turn for help when needed. This has helped me in my time here at Columbia, but I know will also help me wherever my journey takes me.

Josephine Price       Josie

Hello fellow students and faculty members at Columbia College! My name is Josephine Price and this is my second year attending this terrific school! My educational goals and plans are to complete my associates degree in History and in Liberal Studies at Columbia, transfer to a 4-year University to complete my bachelor’s degree, receive my Master’s degree shortly after and then finally go for my PHD in History. Sounds fairly impossible right? Let me inspire you today by telling you that your dreams are never impossible for you to accomplish. Never settle for anything less than your ultimate goal. I am a true believer that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. A few years ago I believed that college wasn’t for me and I could settle with the thought that I could just work my way up the ladder without a degree. With the extensive amount of help I received from Columbia College counselors, professors and especially the EOPS Program, my attitude towards my goals and towards myself improved tremendously. The EOPS program provided more than just the financial and directional steps of returning to school; they provided me with self-confidence, encouragement and many close friendships that I value incredibly. The team of counselors and staff members in EOPS take a very personal interest in your educational goals and do everything that they can to make sure you succeed in school. With their help, I was able to achieve the best GPA I have ever had and receive the EOPS $1000 Region 5 Scholarship. I am truly honored to be partnered with the EOPS program. I look forward to becoming the future Dr. Price of History here at Columbia College! See you around campus!

Dustin Costello      Dustin

Did you hear?? Dustin Costello a student of Columbia College, won the gold medal in the impromptu speech competition at the 2017 State Championship. Dustin received a quotation and was given 90 seconds to analyze and prepare a speech affirming the quotation with three examples. Dustin competed against students from all over the state and the judges picked his impromptu speech as the gold medal winner.  Dustin said the competition was really stressful but so worth it and he enjoys the competition, especially competing with students from all kinds of different backgrounds. Dustin feels like he has found his niche and felt a profound sense of accomplishment when he heard his name called for the gold medal. Dustin would like to highly encourage anyone who has an interest in speech and debate, politics or philosophy, to join the forensics speech team at Columbia. He credits Tim Elizondo, Columbia’s forensics speech coach as his mentor, Albert Camus a famous author and philosopher as his inspirational guide and Matt Wohl, his EOPS counselor for his guidance academically. Dustin’s future goals are to transfer to a University and join the forensics team so he can continue to compete. College has opened up opportunities for him that he never knew existed in which he has gained perspective and knowledge about himself and life in general. He appreciates how much the EOPS program has helped him in his educational journey by providing for him financially and helping guide him with his classes. Join us in congratulating Dustin Costello on his amazing accomplishment, one he will never forget.

Candice Johnson      Candice

The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) have offered me support and encouragement throughout my college experience. In addition, EOPS counselors have helped guide me through uncertainties or misunderstandings regarding my Educational Plan. Not only does this remarkable program ensure that I reach my goals, but I would not be a successful student without the help of their financial relief. As long as I uphold my end of the bargain, I have access to textbook assistance, parking permit, and priority registration. All of these benefits, including the Student Success Workshops, have kept me focused and determined in attaining my goals of transferring to a university. I honestly cannot wait to see my counselor or attend a workshop each month.

EOPS believes in their students. Without this program I would be lost. They are helping me pave the way toward a rewarding future for me and my family. I am still working toward my educational goal of pursuing a career as a History teacher. I am also interested in joining extracurricular activities involving the history of Tuolumne County. I hope to see all students reach out for the much needed resources available in order to become successful members of society and in achieving your educational goals.

Dominic Cummins       Dominic

 I first enrolled in EOPS in 2011 at the same time that I enrolled in TRiO. I have to admit that my main motivation was early registration, but, as I participated in the programs, I came to realize that there was much more to it than that. Without the counseling I received, and the education plan that was developed for me, I would not be ready to graduate today. I completed three semesters of Algebra without a text book. I did all my study and homework in the library. The book vouchers I received from EOPS allowed me to buy the books I needed and provided more options for study time. This was a meaningful benefit. I also received a significant amount of grant aid over the semesters I was enrolled. The extra money helped to cover my expenses for school. I did not attend High School. Since I came to Columbia I have completed my general education requirements and passed all the classes I need to transfer. I will graduate on May 2nd 2014, and plan to attend Cal. State University, Monterrey Bay this fall. My major will be Human Communication. I know none of this would have been possible without the support of the special programs offered here at Columbia College. There is another conspicuous benefit that stems from my participation. I have developed lasting friendships with the counselors, administrators and student workers I have come into contact with. These relationships are valuable to me and I know that they will endure long after I graduate. This is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

Taylar Mason       Taylar

 My first few semesters at Columbia Junior College were quite a trial; I lost all my Financial Aid, was flunking most of my classes, and one step away from Academic Dismissal. At a loss for how to get my head above water, someone told me to check out EOPS. This was the turning point of my education thus far.

I am exactly the type of person that EOPS was created for. Some people need more hands on guidance during their education, the EOPS program forces you to stay in communication with your counselor. Jill Olson was my savior that pulled me out of the funk of a lifetime. She kept me in line with regular grade checks and helped me to find a direction, the hardest part. Eventually I got off Academic Probation, earned my Financial Aid back, and will be transferring to Humboldt State University in fall 2015!

Sometimes it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, a Degree feels like a distant dream. I’m here to say that there is a support system waiting to help you every step of the way! Aside from the friendly and experienced counselors; EOPS rewards Grants, parking passes, gas cards, school supplies, and $300 per semester for books! I owe my success here at Columbia to many staff members and friends, but primarily, I thank Jill Olson and the EOPS program for giving me the tools and encouragement I desperately needed. I have also graciously been accepted into the EOP&S program at HSU and look forward to utilizing their resources on the way to my Bachelors Degree.

Julia Mares       Julia

I've been sitting here an hour now trying to write this thing up. I've never been good at talking about myself. So I guess, here goes nothing. Hi, I'm Julia Mares and Columbia College has changed my life. I started at Columbia College in the Fall of 2012. In the three years I have been here. I can honestly say I have learned a thing or two. Microbiology taught me to never give up and to keep trying even when you fail. Finite Math taught me you can never ask too many questions and you should never be embarrassed to ask them because chances are someone else is wondering the same thing. Physiology taught me that when you think the study guide is long, they get longer, so manage your time. Psychology taught me that Freud is a little strange but people seem to trust him and Anatomy taught me to watch where my scalpel goes because theoretically your teacher may freak out and make you wash your finger for an hour if you cut it open while dissecting a cat. Theoretically. In all seriousness there have been so many lessons I have learned over these last few years and I cannot express my sadness at transferring out next semester. I have learned patience, I have gained confidence, I have climbed from an F to an A, and I have had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life here. I can only write so much but, EOPS has pushed me every step of the way to succeed and I would not be where I am not without them. Thank you for all of these awesome years Columbia.

Isaac Sanchez      Isaac

Experience is a process which we undergo as we journey through the years in the approach to better understand ourselves, and the world around us. I was born to a caring father and mother in the prosperous state of Queretaro, Mexico. Growing up I always had a sense of adventure, at times switching my interests between being an astronaut, or an anthropologist. Then, suddenly my childhood was paused, uprooted, and relocated. A story shared by immigrants globally, giving up a lifestyle for a greater chance, an opportunity; perhaps a greater calling to a more prosperous lifestyle, an innate desire in the human search for expanding and exploring. At the tender age of 10, I moved from my beloved country to the United States and settled in Sonora.  My parents returned to Mexico leaving me to live with my brothers.  I learned the established language, attended school, and grew to immerse myself in the thought of understanding the foreign, as well as the unknown. As my time progressed I now understood, that learning meant I could always drive forth, unafraid to be wrong, teaching myself by trial and error. After ten years, I can fortunately say that I am part of a great college campus, with great staff, great teachers, and wonderful aides, who are good at what they do, what they teach, and by what services they provide. One of which, I could not be any more glad to receive a helping hand from. The EOPS staff, has been there, with great counselors, a welcoming atmosphere, granting me academic opportunity, which I am, indeed, grateful for. Thanks to such, I can now hope on graduating in May, with two A.A.-Transferable degrees, of Sociology and Psychology. These degrees, I plan to use as a framework in my endeavors to study Global Relations, which will emphasize on Conflict Resolution, and Cooperation. My personal journey, made possible by the most enigmatic, yet humanistic approach to pondering about the unknown, has helped me be thankful for those who help, those who share, and those who befriend. Now with deepest anxiety, I await for acceptance letters. All the best to you as well in your own personal journey, dear reader.

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