Paraprofessional secretary and Esperanza instructor, Carolyn G. Bukhair Elementary, RISD 

“I started at Richland College in 2014 with the initial intent to be done by 2016. Unfortunately, things were harder than I expected. Though I didn’t have any financial support from my parents, for some reason I decided not to apply for financial aid. So I began working full time while trying to take classes full time. Let's just say that that wasn’t the best idea, but I wanted to finish earlier than everyone else. I didn't realize that I was going to end up doing the exact opposite.  

“Richland has helped me learn that college is not about winning first place in a race, but about finishing the marathon. I've met a lot of people who started college at an older age, some who graduated high school but took a break for a few years, and even some who had taken 10-year breaks from school. I began to understand that everyone attends school at their own pace.  

“However, I still acted irresponsibly and made bad decisions. Understanding that college was not a race made me feel overconfident and take a lot of my classes for granted. I thought that it would be like high school. I thought, 'I can turn assignments in late or find my way out through extra credit.’ Once again, I was wrong. I went from being an A/B student to being a B/C student. 

“Then I took my communications class. A lot of people strived to do their best as if it were a race to who could make the best grades, and let’s just say I don’t like being last. That class opened my eyes — I was not about to be the lazy student. More than anything, it motivated me in another way… although, my professor doesn’t know it, I was motivated by the simple fact that he was Hispanic. He had shared amazing stories of his college experience and some of his accomplishments, which made me think 'I need to be that kind of person.' I knew I needed more experience and I started taking more action towards achieving my dreams.  

“With the encouragement of my boyfriend, I took the initiative to apply for work in the RISD [Richardson Independent School District] to help build my résumé. I now work as a secretary and also teach Esperanza, a Spanish lesson for second-graders to help with their pronunciation and writing. I teach that lesson for 30 minutes five days a week, working on vowels, small words, identifying letters that look alike and so forth. I also translate in meetings and interact with students in all grades through lunch duty.  

“My DCCCD program is preparing me for my real-life work, especially now that I am taking Education courses and working on my field experience. It is hands-on, which is great since I am a kinesthetic learner (where learning takes place by carrying out physical activities rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations).  

“Attending DCCCD has helped me build more self-discipline, determination, confidence and ambition. It has not only been my classes that have helped me, but also those professors who care about students and who have shared their successes with me and my fellow classmates.  

“I would recommend that anyone debating this plan of study just go for it. I have met great people and had great experiences thanks to this program.” 

Yushi Raymundo is pursuing an Associate of Arts in Education degree at Richland College with an anticipated graduation date of May 2018.