Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience
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.

For Alex, a graduate of Terra Nova High School, attending CSM proved to be a defining experience in his life. CSM helped him to develop from a mediocre high school student to a highly successful college student. As with many college freshmen, Alex was undecided about his career goal, but was inspired by the great variety of courses that he could take at CSM and eagerly began to choose classes that interested him while fulfilling his general education requirements. Propelled by his new-found interest in school and the motivation to do well in classes, Alex found his GPA was rising.

"The people who work at CSM made a huge difference in my life, they want students to be successful. My professors believed in my ability and they challenged me to aspire to a higher level. It really helped to know that I had their support." When the time came to decide on a transfer institution, his counselor suggested that he consider UC campuses. Alex aimed high and made UC Berkeley his number one choice. For his hard work at CSM Alex was rewarded with a letter of acceptance to Berkeley.

"CSM gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, making it possible for me to attend UC Berkeley, and, it prepared me to compete academically and be a successful UC student." By spending his first two years at CSM, Alex found he had many more college options open to him than when he graduated from high school and he admits he made a more educated choice. As he looks back over the course of his college education, Alex says, "While I was privileged to have the chance to attend Berkeley, a world class institution, it was at CSM that I experienced the most academic growth; CSM made it all possible."

While attending UC Berkeley, Alex was a student volunteer in the University's Office of Multicultural Recruitment and Retention where he was involved in outreach to local schools and community colleges. Based on his successful transfer experience, Alex understood the value of attending a community college. He was effective in convincing his supervisor that UC Berkeley needed to expand its outreach efforts to community colleges, a practice which continues today.

After earning his B.A. degree in sociology from Berkeley, Alex returned to CSM as a full time employee in the Public Relations Office where he continues to work in outreach and recruitment as a liaison with high schools and the community. Alex's passion for his work is evident. When speaking with members of the community, he does so as someone who has "been there" and shares his first-hand experience explaining how CSM can make a huge difference in the lives of students. Alex's enthusiasm about CSM is compelling; in fact, some of his co-workers refer to him as" Mr. CSM".

Sitting down for this interview, Alex wore his typical work attire: CSM shirt with a "Cal" cap. When asked if he is a Cal bear or CSM bulldog at heart, he is very much the diplomat: with a big smile, he responds, "Don't ask me to choose. I love both institutions!"