(Left to Right: Rebecca Calderon, Oscar Arias, Destany Barnett, Tzitziki Hernandez, Alani Flores, Daniela Gamez and Kurtis Blueford)
College grads reveal why high school students should choose NVC
A panel of seven Napa Valley College graduates recently spoke to local high school counselors about the benefits of starting out at the community college.
The comments were offered to about 100 people at the 13th annual NVC High School Breakfast on April 19 in the Performing Arts Center.
"From the very first day that I walked into the NVC Welcome Center friendly staff made me feel welcomed and comfortable," said Oscar Arias, a police cadet in San Francisco for the past two years who has been accepted into UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. He is planning to attend law school after earning a bachelor's degree in Legal Studies.
"After meeting with various NVC counselors, we constructed an educational plan for me to follow throughout my semesters at NVC," said Arias. "NVC counselors deeply care about their students and do an extraordinary job of ensuring they are aware of all the resources that NVC has to offer.
"The NVC faculty guided me through the testing process and instructed me, step-by-step, on what to do next.
"NVC should be a first choice to students because it is a diverse school with excellent faculty and resources that will help students accomplish their ultimate goals," said Arias. He cited the Tutoring Center, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) and the Transfer Center as especially helpful to students.
Rebecca Calderon, graduating in May from UC Davis, is preparing to work at the Napa County District Attorney's office, helping victims of violent crimes. A 2013 graduate of Napa High School, she began her college career at NVC.
"I went in as a business major, then switched to psychology and lastly to sociology, which I absolutely love," said Calderon. "Being at NVC I was able to change my mind many times and in the end it only benefited me because I was able to graduate with three degrees and three certificates.
"Many times when high school students want to go to college it is easy for them to get discouraged because realistically speaking, they don't always have everything figured out, especially when it comes to their futures, and that's okay. But that's the best part about going to NVC first, because they have options.
"For me, going to NVC first is the best option for students because it allows them to figure out what they really want to do without feeling so much pressure and having to spend a lot more money if they went to a four-year right away. NVC has great staff and they all truly want to help students find the right path for them."
Alani Flores, a 2015 St. Helena High School graduate, is heading to UC Davis to study communications and journalism, after spending two years at NVC.
"I believe NVC should be the first choice for students who aren't quite ready to go straight to a four-year university, but who definitely want to prepare themselves by first completing their general education on a budget," said Flores.
"In my experience, attending NVC allowed me to stay home to help my mother and myself economically as we are the only breadwinners in the household. Not only was I able to save up some money for when I move out to go to UC Davis this fall, but I was also able to learn about my own aspirations as I was confused about the career I wanted to pursue in the beginning.
"Attending NVC first gave me the exposure to get to know the resources that are offered on a campus, which is one of the most valuable things a transfer student can walk away with. As soon as a transfer student sets a foot in their dream school, they will know what to look for in order to facilitate their college experience.
"This is something I believe high school graduates, unfortunately, lack when going straight to a four-year university," Flores said.
"Taking a variety of general education courses at Napa Valley College has enlightened me," said Arias. "Lower division English courses have prepared me for a four-year university by transforming me into an articulate writer and critical thinker, which are imperative skills as I prepare myself for law school. The reading, writing, and researching skills that I have obtained in community college will be put to use and then mastered at a four-year university."
He said NVC also taught him how to collaborate.
"An extremely valuable skill that I have expanded on at NVC is my ability to work with other students despite having different ideas, responses, and work ethics. Group presentations have shown me how to lead a group to triumph."
Calderon added that collaborating helped her feel supported at NVC.
"During my three years at NVC I was part of the SSS Trio program, which really helped me during my first year transitioning from high school to college; and my last year, especially, because they helped me apply for financial aid, petition for my degrees and fill out long, stressful applications for four-year universities.
"At NVC, students can learn to network and build meaningful relationships with staff, faculty and students that will help them be better prepared for transfer, if that's their choice, or for the workforce," Calderon said.
She added that NVC students can gain valuable work experience on campus.
"I loved working on campus during my three years at NVC because I was able to create amazing relationships. They were so flexible with my school schedule that I never felt stressed or overwhelmed," said Calderon.
Flores said the Puente Program, along with Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), helped her feel confident in the resources offered by NVC.
"The Puente Program helped me narrow down my options to finally see what I am passionate about. EOPS helped me get where I needed to be to transfer. Their constant and assuring reminders about transferring from both programs also pushed me to want to inform myself about this process."
Arias said Napa Valley College helps teach students to pursue their dreams.
"Two and a half years ago I would not have pictured myself where I am today," said Arias. "I look back say I have accomplished almost every goal that I set. My journey has not come to an end but is just getting started. As long as you work hard, stay dedicated, and never give up, anything and everything is possible."
NVC graduate Kurtis Blueford, a philosophy major heading to Sacramento State University, agreed.
"The majority of NVC students are actually striving toward something more than simply graduating. They want to understand what it is they want to do in life."