Luis Carlos Alvarez Stanford University 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 U.C. Davis 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." Although some people criticized my decision, I enrolled at CSM with a positive attitude and the mindset that I would work hard and earn the grades I needed to get into the UC campus of my choice. I also needed some time to figure out a major and where I wanted to transfer," says Victoria.
Arianna Avendano A.A., College of San Mateo; California State University-East Bay, Psychology Major 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!”
Damion Caldwell B.S., Eastern Washington University; M.F.T., San Francisco State University Damion credits “Coach O” and the entire football program at the college – coaches, trainers, athletic director and the rest of the staff – with providing an important support network and the structure he needed to be successful in the classroom and on the playing field.
Chennie Castañon B.S., UC Berkeley, Conservation Resource Studies While she was growing up, Chennie Castañon never considered going to college. Her family moved frequently; it was a lifestyle that created challenges for Chennie’s education. As a high school student, she attended no less than eight schools. Unable to settle into one school for any length of time, Chennie lost academic credits and was forced to repeat courses. Discouraged by her teachers and principals, Chennie decided to quit school when she was 17. In spite of her haphazard education, Chennie passed the GED to receive her high school proficiency certificate. Suddenly on her own, this resilient young woman spent the next ten years working to support herself and discovering what kind of a career she wanted to pursue.
Vanessa Castro B. A., English, U.C. Berkeley As a first-time freshman at CSM, Vanessa Castro knew hardly anyone on campus which could have been a tough transition for most people, but not Vanessa. She quickly realized that she needed to reach out and meet new people. As a disabled student, that task was not simple. Vanessa has navigated through daily life with the assistance of a power wheelchair and a communication device to type out what she wants to say. “I would ask random people on campus for help in getting items out of my backpack, and speaking through my communications device, you can imagine that I got many strange looks.” However, she was always able to find someone willing to help–and that’s how she began to meet new people and make new friends at CSM.
Rhonda Demars A.A., College of San Mateo, 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.”
Maria Gershenovich UC Berkeley, Boalt Law School Growing up in Russia, as a competitive ballroom dancer, Maria Gershenovich never dreamed she would someday attend law school in the U.S. She and her dance partner achieved great success and became national champions. However, her education in the U.S. did not start out on such good footing. She attended three different high schools and a community college while in Washington. Then at 18, Maria relocated to the Bay Area, checked out local community colleges and decided to attend CSM.
Sebastian Grillo B.S., San Jose State University I wasn't thrilled with the idea of attending a community college. However, once I visited CSM I was sold by the campus's eye opening, breathtaking views and friendly atmosphere.
Justin Hoffman Political Economy, UC Berkeley From real estate to business to recreation administration and finally to political economy: that’s the journey that CSM student Justin Hoffmann has followed in his pursuit of a major. While at CSM, he was exposed to experiences and opportunities that inspired him to choose a major which would prepare him to help people in some of the most underdeveloped areas of the world.
Haley Holmes A.A., College of San Mateo In a little over a year of full time studies, Haley passed her State board exams and earned her Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology. She is currently completing the final requirements for her associate degree.
Corey Kreidler B.S., Environmental Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Corey had earned a high grade point average, but as with so many college freshmen, he was uncertain about a major. “I wanted to make sure I would take the right path so I decided to attend CSM which would give me time to learn about different subjects and not have the pressure of focusing on a major right away.”
Jason Lawrence Communications, Notre Dame de Namur After graduating from high school, Jason decided to enroll at CSM to complete his general education requirements and receive the “best education for a reasonable cost” that would allow him to transfer to a university. He found the classes interesting and instructors were very helpful and provided a fun learning environment.
Lindsay Moore University of Cambridge As a full time student, Lindsay maximized her two years at CSM by getting involved in a number of co-curricular activities that enriched her community college experience. By participating in CSM's service learning initiative, CSM Connects, she found a pathway to pursue her passion for public service by getting involved with the campus and the wider community.
Stephen Schmidt Graphic Designer, Creative Director Stephen Schmidt’s career path, which began in graphic design classes at CSM, has catapulted him to become an award-winning book designer and creative director of his own graphic design company.
Samantha Seminoff B.A., Sonoma State University; M.A., Arizona State University Enrolling at CSM was a turning point for Samantha Seminoff. Recruited to play water polo by CSM Coach Randy Wright, Samantha recognized that a wonderful opportunity had come her way. "The coaching staff showed genuine interested in me as an athlete." This helped motivate her to work hard to develop her athletic skills, and more importantly, it marked the first time that she took school work seriously.
Elena Seynova Russia CSM gave me the strength to believe in myself. The college also provided me with the information I needed to transfer so that I could continue my education. Transfer Services made my search for a university easier and less time consuming. In fall 2012, Elena transferred to San Francisco University and is studying international business. In looking back on her decision to attend CSM, Elena says, “I am very proud to be an alumnus of CSM."
Frank Simpson A.S., Electronics, CSM Through CSM’s electronics program, Frank learned the theories and applications widely used in the industry. “The hands-on instruction I received at CSM was so valuable because I could apply what I had learned as soon as I was hired as an engineering technician,” says Frank.
Cecile Sorensen Denmark I loved the small classes and the attention I received from my professors. I met Maggie Skaff, who helped me get everything set up for my visa. The great thing about CSM's International Student Program is that Maggie makes me feel like I'm the most important student on campus and she has done so much to help me succeed.
Collette Yee College of San Mateo When Harvard Forest called CSM student Collette Yee and offered her admission in its summer research program, Yee enthusiastically accepted. Little did Yee realize that she had competed among 500 college students nationwide for a program that accepted only 31 students. Even more impressive was the fact that Yee was the only community college student in the program!
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