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Student Experience
John Vehikite
John Vehikite College of San Mateo

“Think of a number from one to 10,” instructed John Vehikite, who works in College of San Mateo’s Financial Aid Office reviewing students’ financial aid applications for eligibility. “Now, grab my wrist and think of that number over and over again. Squeeze tighter. OK, now you can let go.”

As Vehikite rubbed his arm, the red marks created by the grip began to form a number. Suddenly and amazingly, seven appeared; it was the exact number Vehikite’s subject was thinking. How did he do it? Like a true magician, Vehikite (pronounced vay-he-key-tay) didn’t reveal the secret of his trickery. But, the easy-going 27-year-old did talk freely about himself and his other interests: Vehikite enjoys Polynesian/Tongan and Latin dancing and, most recently, he’s taken up the guitar. Being a fast learner (he’s a fairly skilled magician after just two years of studying and he learned to speak Spanish in just a year and-a-half while serving as a missionary in Texas for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), it won’t be a surprise to hear Vehikite playing full tunes soon.

Vehikite not only works at CSM but he is an alumnus, graduating last spring with a 3.71 grade point average, and plans to study communications at CSU East Bay. Someday, he hopes to do voice acting and voice-overs. “It’s funny, my grade point average in high school was almost the exact reverse of my college GPA,” Vehikite said in his smooth, pleasant sounding voice. Vehikite attributes the turn around to his life experience, including paying jobs and volunteer missionary work. He said it provided him with a sense of “focus” and desire as he entered CSM at 24 in 2003. And while at CSM, he credits Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS), his EOPS counselor Arnett Caviel and the College’s professors, particularly Jim Clifford and Darryl Stanford, for assistance, guidance and inspiring teaching.

“CSM expected more from me and it drove me to do better,” he said. “It helped me see my potential as a person.” And, as it turns out, that was certainly not an illusion.

This article first appeared in CSM Currents in fall 2006.