Stuck in the Middle: Life as a Non-Degree Seeking Student

A few months before graduating high school, I was forced to face a tough reality: If I didn’t get at least 80 percent of my college costs covered, I would not be attending a university.

My parents, as hard as they work, were not in a position to contribute anything financially to my education. I was in the same boat as many students today are because I knew, at 17 years old, that I’d have to take on this responsibility fully on my own. Luckily, I received four different scholarships, one of which was a full academic scholarship to attend UTSA. Of course, I accepted.

I graduated in May of 2018 with a degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and Disease Control and a Minor in Biology. As much as I am the the type of person that needs to have things in order, it was really hard for me to face the fact that, just months before graduating, I didn’t want to become a doctor anymore. Panic struck as I began feeling that I just wasted four years of my life and a full scholarship on a subject I was now completely disinterested in.

My brain told me for so long to pursue a career that I and my family would be proud of, without listening to my heart and what I actually wanted to do. With true friends, I stopped procrastinating and looked into programs that would help me change paths. Today, I am a non-degree seeking student a Northwest Vista pursuing a career in Communications.

At one point, this felt like a huge step backwards for me. After all, I had just gotten my degree and now I would be back at a community college taking introductory classes at the same level as high school graduates. On top of that, I would get no financial aid because of my classification. It was really difficult feeling like I was behind compared to my peers. Eventually, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, paid for my classes, applied for jobs I could learn in, and got hired (somehow) for a position that I don’t even think I was qualified for yet.

To sum up my experiences, I’ve learned that 1) As long as you’re working towards something, you’re never behind. 2) If you love what you study, you won’t regret your degree. 3) Take chances applying for jobs, even if you feel you’re not qualified yet.

By NVC Student Jasmine Valadez

Pushing Yourself the Extra Mile

Spontaneity is the best.

It’s exciting to be able to have the most bizarre and wonderful experiences you never would have known if you hadn’t taken the first step out of your comfort zone. While that step feels like the scariest feeling in the world, embracing change is so rewarding. I never would have met my closest friends or been able to travel around the country if I had learned to become scared of the unknown.

What is less exciting about spontaneity, is when you find yourself enrolling in extra classes to “get ‘er done”…on top of an all-consuming freelance job. Oh, and let’s enroll in Army ROTC too, you know, for fun. Let’s take a fitness challenge that leaves you so inhumanly sore that you find yourself waddling around like a penguin. An angry, sleepy penguin.

Earlier this month, I found myself in Wisconsin on a business trip. As I trekked through the airport, which was decorated in leftover Halloween streamers and bootleg “Alice in Wonderland” garb, I found myself stressing. There was so much to do; I had traded the previous night’s sleep to get ahead on an essay, but I needed to read more chapters, study for a test, figure out how to submit all of these things on a mobile phone. I’m sure the security cameras loved seeing an overdressed tourist toddling stiffly down the terminals.

The leaves were changing to a deep, rich red; the smell of wood and spices hung in the air; the streets flooded with bodies as the Milwaukee Brewers lost their most important game of the season (sports!). The weekend was a success. I couldn’t feel my legs the good majority of it (thanks, exercise), but I somehow managed to submit all of my work on time. Was it worth it? Is this grind of school and extracurriculars worth the time spent and sleep lost?

I feel like if I hadn’t pushed myself here, I never would have learned to appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given. With ROTC and more engaging community classes, I have felt more involved in campus life. I recently attended a lecture! I have volunteered for community events!

It’s easy to sit back and take it slow. I definitely don’t recommend sticking to insane schedules all year long! But being able to push yourself and thrive in a new environment is the most satisfying feeling in the world.

(I still can’t feel my legs.)

By NVC Student Kathryn Carrillo

NVC Male Students Get Valuable Advice

The mission of the NVC Male Success Initiative program is to encourage leadership, character, and brotherhood among the male students at NVC.

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The program focuses on several key character traits to include integrity, discipline, humility, confidence, respect and self-control. It is believed that instilling these traits and building on them makes a strong foundation for our male students’ success.

On May 8, MSI hosted a Leadership Luncheon for NVC male students. The luncheon consisted of male professionals that came to give advice on different topics such as balancing commitments, education after NVC, character and choosing the right career.

Participants expressed that they enjoyed the events and learned a lot from 18 plus male professionals and members of a similar male organization from Trinity University. The male professionals gave great advice to the students and they genuinely showed compassion for the success of the male students.

MSI will be recruiting new members in the fall and encourages faculty and staff to bring awareness of this program to male students who would like to enhance their leadership skills, become engaged with the campus and community and network with professionals.
To learn more about MSI, go here.
NVC Male Students

Male Success Initiative Helping Men to Succeed

H. Stillwater; J. Rosas; K. Washington; E. Alvear; M.Uresti
H. Stillwater; J. Rosas; K. Washington; E. Alvear; M.Uresti

Juan Rosas knows what it takes to make it. He knows what he is up against and he knows how to arm himself with the best possible weapon to fight what confronts him. What confronts him is failure.

Society and statistics say that Juan, as a man of color in college, will fail. Men of color earn community college degrees and certificates at disproportionately lower rates. Ironically, community colleges enroll more men of color than any other type of higher learning institution. Mr. Rosas has a plan though. His plan is being there for other men of color who are, statistically, going to fail through the Male Success Initiatve or MSI. His goal is to support men who are in community colleges and want positive influences to help guide them through the mind field of life.

PrintIn San Antonio, only 9.3 percent of the population has an associate’s degree while only 24.6 percent has a bachelor’s degree. These stats only show what both genders have earned but men are not going to be the ones that boosted those meager numbers up by a lot. This is where MSI comes in to assist those on the edge, if only those on the edge would reach out instead of taking what is voluntarily given to them.

All you have to do is sign up, go to a meeting and see for yourself what positivity is. That positivity will translate on the road to success and towards earning a degree, which will translate so much more in a man’s life. This is the focus of the Male Success Initiative – how to be a better man.

Most men in community colleges need guidance and, believe it or n

Recent MSI event where male students talked with faculty, staff, community leaders
Recent MSI event where male students talked with faculty, staff, community leaders

ot, high expectations. Mr. Rosas and the MSI members cannot help with high expectations but they can help with guidance and positive influence. Juan exudes positivity and it’s genuine. His enthusiasm is derived from actually caring and knowing that he, and those around him, need each other to guide them onto that path of success and that path starts at Northwest Vista.

That path also starts with a man’s outlook on life and how focused they are towards their goals and achieving those goals. Those things are not easy. Yet, surrounding yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed, who want to see you grasp your goals and surmount your aspirations will give young men that extra push to make it.

While both men and women could always use a little motivation, men of color are the ones that have the most to lose and the most to gain when they succeed. The Male Success Initiative is a great starting point to make that difference. To learn more about MSI, visit this link.

By NVC Student Emiliano Saldana