Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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August 30 - September 1
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Student Experience
Featured Stories

Melissa Aliu & Sione Fanaika
Melissa Aliu & Sione Fanaika UC Santa Cruz, Sociology
Louisiana State University, Sociology
Cousins Melissa Aliu and Fehoko Fanaika come from a close-knit Pacific Islander family that greatly values a college education. Sacramento native and high school football player, Fehoko made the move to the Bay Area to be closer to his extended family and continue his football career at CSM. He lived with Melissa’s family in South San Francisco and the two cousins found themselves attending CSM at the same time. As fellow students, they provided each other with motivation to work hard and inspiration to reach their respective goals.
Luis Carlos Alvarez
Luis Carlos Alvarez Stanford University, Astrophysics Luis Carlos attended CSM as a Middle College student in his junior year of high school because he needed more academic stimulation than regular high schools offered. By graduating, he became the first in his family to earn a high school diploma. He decided that his best course of action would be to continue to attend CSM as a college student with the goal of transferring.
Victoria Anderson
Victoria Anderson UC Davis, Communications Victoria Anderson fulfilled her goal of attending a university after high school graduation. However, the path to college for the Notre Dame High School graduate wasn't as straight forward as planned. After a year at a State university campus, and despite doing well in her classes, Victoria realized that she wasn't ready to make that big step as a college freshman. She decided to return home and attend CSM for her sophomore year. In doing so, Victoria became one of a growing number of reverse transfer students – students who begin their college education at universities and transfer to community colleges.
Arianna Avendano
Arianna Avendano College of San Mateo, A.A.
CSU East Bay, Psychology
For Arianna Avendano, the key to her success at CSM was all about making the most of the college’s resources. “It was a combination of the staff, faculty and the services at CSM that contributed to my success. I was able to find the resources I needed in order to prepare for a university, and the support I received along the way was exceptional!”
Mario Ayala
Mario Ayala College of San Mateo, A.A., Broadcasting and Electronic Media CSM is educating the next generation of media makers and Mario Ayala is a perfect example of that college-to-career connection. When Mario arrived in U.S. from Mexico in 2002, he couldn't imagine that he would earn a college degree and that the degree would lead to a broadcasting career with a world-class media company. “My English was limited, I had a six-month old daughter and I didn’t have a job.”
Rhonda Demars
Rhonda Demars College of San Mateo, A.A., Social Science Rhonda Demars “is doing her dream.” As an entrepreneur and president of her own company, which produces natural cosmetics and skincare products, Rhonda credits CSM with a share of her success, “I have to say if it wasn't for CSM and my teachers I wouldn't be where I am today!” Rhonda enrolled at CSM when she was in her late 30s with the goal of earning a degree in psychology. At that time, her philosophy was to take one class at a time while not concentrating on how long it would take to complete her degree. “Each class was a challenge but I was determined to finish. I was even awarded scholarships, which paid for books and supplies.”
Gabriel Denham
Gabriel Denham Columbia University, Physics Gabriel Denham's journey to college was anything but traditional. After attending four different high schools, he came to the conclusion that school just wasn't for him. In his junior year, Gabriel left school, took the state proficiency exam and earned his GED. At age 17 and out of school, he never considered going to college. Instead, Gabriel spent 10 years in the workforce employed at various jobs and gaining life experience. After being sidelined from work due to illness, he reconsidered education.
Grace  Noland
Grace Noland San Francisco State University, Communications For Grace Noland, a graduate of Mercy High School in Burlingame, attending CSM was an enhancing and transforming experience. She arrived at the college as a determined and independent student uncertain of what she wanted to pursue academically, but she had confidence that she would be able to figure it out at CSM. "I wanted to start over. I wanted my successful past—that had been successful because of my dedicated parents and supportive teachers and coaches—to be put to the test. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it alone. And, I wanted my supporters to be proud that they had contributed to my success."
Efrosini Proios
Efrosini Proios UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology After completing high school in Greece, Efrosini Proios decided that California was where she wanted to continue her education. Arriving in the Bay Area, she began exploring the wealth of college and university options the region offered. Efrosini recalls, “I visited CSM’s campus and it seemed like a beautiful place to go to school. And, I learned the college offered many different majors, lots of activities and had some of the best professors in the Bay Area.

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