Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience
Candice Alfaro
Candice Alfaro College of San Mateo, A.A., Political Science
UC Berkeley, Political Science

As a first generation college student, Candice Alfaro grew up in a family that valued education and expected her to earn a college degree. While she was academically prepared to go from high school to a university as a freshman, like many students, she was undecided about what major to study and thought CSM would be a good place to start college. At CSM, Candice was able to explore various subjects, experience student life and discover what path she wanted to pursue.

With encouragement from CSM Counselor Modesta Garcia, Candice enrolled at CSM and began a journey that shaped the next several years of her life. She describes her experience at CSM as “filled with amazing teachers who helped me focus on my goals.” She joined the college’s student government and made an immediate connection with the campus and college life. Candice recalls that she was fortunate to have several important mentors at CSM, including Ms. Garcia, her counselor; student body president, Allan Young; and CSM’s former president, Dr. Shirley Kelly.

At CSM, she found exceptional opportunities for developing her leadership skills. Candice served as a student senator prior to being elected student body president. In her role as a student leader, she served on college committees representing the voice of the students in college governance. As a participant in college budget discussions during the State’s budget crisis in 2003, she felt that her contributions were taken seriously and respected by faculty, staff and administration with whom she worked. According to Candice, “the combination of my academic and leadership responsibilities at CSM grounded me in a way that transformed me from teenager to adult.”  As an advocate for students, Candice discovered the power of people working together for a common goal. That experience helped guide her decision to major in political science.

With helpful advice and counsel throughout her years at CSM, Candice received acceptances to all of the seven UC campuses to which she applied; she chose to attend UC Berkeley, the university that had been her number one choice.  While in political science classes at UC Berkeley, she realized that her calling was to make a difference and affect change in the lives of others.  She got involved in grassroots-level volunteer work, first participating in the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina victims followed by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the Peninsula Humane Society. Candice says her volunteer experience, and in particular, her work with animals, has helped to define her future goal. Today, armed with an associate degree from CSM and bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal, she has returned to college and is completing requirements for admission to a graduate veterinary program.