Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Spring Recess
March 22-28, 2015
Memorial Day Weekend
May 23-25, 2015
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Student Experience

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.
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.
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!”
Rachel Brannon
Rachel Brannon College of San Mateo, Accounting As someone in the process of changing careers, CSM has helped put Rachel on the right career path. “My professors were all very knowledgeable and I received a top notch education at a great price.” In addition, she found the resources in CSM’s Accounting Department to be very helpful in providing networking opportunities to meet with accounting professionals.
Mariela Buchin
Mariela Buchin Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mariela Buchin has completed more than 25 courses at College of San Mateo. She is a tutor in the College’s Math Lab. She was just accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And, in June, the 17-year-old will graduate from high school. That’s right. Buchin is a high school student who is attending CSM and West Bay Christian Academy in Redwood City at the same time. She is among 350 other students participating this year in CSM’s Concurrent Enrollment (CE) Program. Buchin has received credit for community college courses in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, math, English and biology. (The Program’s students may also apply these credits toward high school graduation.) She is a 4.0 student in high school, and carries a 3.41 at CSM. “I like the different cultures at CSM and there are a lot of great teachers,” Buchin said about her college experience.
Patrick Burns
Patrick Burns UC Berkeley, Latin American Studies Patrick Burns is attending UC Berkeley as a Latin American Studies major, having transferred from College of San Mateo at the end of the Spring 2008 semester. "I struggled in high school, and I knew that if I worked hard at CSM, I would have a second chance to apply to UC Berkeley," he said. "Little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life."
Chennie Castañon
Chennie Castañon UC Berkeley, B.S., 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.
Jeremy Cham
Jeremy Cham UC Berkeley, Economics In addition to the coursework in general education and his major, Jeremy participated in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities such as the Transfer Club and Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society, as well as serving as an intern for a large financial company and as a volunteer in the community.
Chisa Menyon Daye
Chisa Menyon Daye College of San Mateo, Psychology When Chisa Menyon Daye was a high school sophomore in Daly City, she attended a College of San Mateo student festival. About five years later—after working in the retail industry and a “soul searching” summer—she still had that day impressed in her memory.
Gino De Grandis
Gino De Grandis College of San Mateo, Photography A native of Venice, Italy, Gino De Grandis was a well-established chef and owner of a successful restaurant. While satisfied with his career, his passion had long been photography. Self-taught in the fundamentals, Gino knew that if he was to become a serious photographer he would need more formal education. Gino recalls, “One day, CSM’s Schedule of Classes arrived in my mail and it changed everything.“ While flipping through the pages of the schedule, he found that CSM offered a photography program. Upon enrolling in his first classes he was immediately impressed by his professors who were also outstanding professional photographers.
Darnell Ford
Darnell Ford College of San Mateo With that smile—and it is a winning smile—College of San Mateo student Darnell Ford is going places. One of those places may be the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a four-year college to which Ford hopes to transfer when he completes his studies at CSM. And he is optimistic because he believes good things are going to happen. “My life thus far is nothing short of a miracle,” says the 25-year-old student from Gary, Indiana. “I’ve overcome a lot of adversity and I still face some today. But I manage to stay focused and aligned in my new path of life.”
Alex Guiriba
Alex Guiriba UC Berkeley, Sociology On the advice of his high school counselor, Alex Guiriba scrapped the idea of going to a local state university and enrolled at CSM. According to Alex, that was some of the best advice he ever received.
Paul Haas
Paul Haas College of San Mateo, Nursing A husband and father, Paul Haas, 37, graduated from College of San Mateo with honors last spring with a nursing degree, a well-paying and secure job at a local hospital already in hand and eminently prepared to pass the registered nurse licensing examination on his first try —all a tribute to his hard work and a highly regarded nursing program at the community college. “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Haas said of nursing education at CSM. “It was a very intense program.” “The instructors were always supportive. They always prepared us to be good nurses and made sure we were serious about what we were doing” added Haas, one of 10 men in the 51-student nursing program graduating class. Part of CSM’s nursing education involves clinical rotations at hospitals, providing students with an array of hands-on experience—much to Haas’ liking.
Justin Hoffmann
Justin Hoffmann UC Berkeley, Political Economy 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.
Colin Jackson
Colin Jackson College of San Mateo CSM student Colin Jackson didn't follow the traditional path to college. He was home schooled by his parents, who would provide materials to their son and let him do his thing.
Amber Klink
Amber Klink College of San Mateo, English
Sarah Lawrence College, Social Work and Child Development
Amber Klink looks back on her young life and credits CSM in getting her to where she is today: a senior at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and concurrently taking graduate courses in social work and child development. "CSM has given me everything I have today: I literally and figuratively owe it my life."
Corey Kreidler
Corey Kreidler Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, B.S., Environmental Engineering 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.”
Jeff Lowenstein
Jeff Lowenstein College of San Mateo
Santa Clara University, B.S., Economics
As a graduating senior at Serra High School, Jeff Lowenstein had been accepted to several colleges, including Loyola Marymount and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but decided to attend CSM. His plan was to stay close to home and save money so that he could transfer to Santa Clara University (SCU), which was his top choice in a four-year university.
Chris Phillips
Chris Phillips College of San Mateo, Public Broadcasting For CSM alumnus and employee Chris Phillips, the college and specifically, the broadcasting program, became his home away from home. In search of a career direction, Chris found the campus to be a surprisingly comfortable place to learn and explore. To sum up his experience, Chris says, "Everything I needed was at CSM."
Emanuela Quaglia
Emanuela Quaglia College of San Mateo, Broadcasting and Electronic Media Emanuela, 36, is an "A" student studying broadcasting and electronic media as an international student. She's also president of the student club Mediate-started this year at for all media technology students-and an officer in the honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

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