Anthony is majoring in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.
Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Nigeria & Leuzinger High School, CA | El Camino College
I chose to go to community college because I had just migrated to the United States from Nigeria and enrolled in high school for a year. I knew that I wanted to attend a University of California (which was primarily because of the biased and inaccurate information I had heard about the CSU system and community colleges - that they were not good enough to be successful).
With that in mind I applied to UC schools and some CSU’s - as safety schools. My application to the UC schools was not well-put-together, and one major reason was because I had just migrated: I barely knew how the American education system worked, what majors were, or generally how America worked as a country because it is very different from Nigeria.
I did not get into any UCs, and as my last resort I decided to go to community college so that I could have a second chance.
“Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops -
Funny enough, Chemistry was the LAST subject I thought I would major in because I felt that it was too complex to understand. It was not so much the test tubes or Avogadro that sparked my interest (even though they did along the way), but it was how Chemistry was being reborn in my mind and by who it was being reborn by.
In my early Chemistry course - and throughout all my Chemistry courses at community college really - my professors presented Chemistry in such a friendly way that I became genuinely interested about Chemistry and how it explained the world.
I like to think that another factor was because of the environment that I was being taught in; small class sizes, professors that actually cared about my success, and a class blessed with all forms of diversity aided my interest. If I had not taken Chemistry at a community college, I probably would have continued hating Chemistry. I am really passionate about learning Chemistry now.
I was a member of the Mathematics Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Program that gave me my first job as a Chemistry tutor and peer mentor.
This program also gave me the opportunity to represent El Camino College at Science Leadership Conferences, a Mathematics competition, and even as an Undergraduate Scholar at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
My participation in these experiences molded me into a refined student academically.
Community college benefitted me in two ways: academically and socially. I was a member of the Honors Transfer Program which meant for me that I had to take honors classes and write research papers in those classes. The opportunity that this gave me was being able to participate in an Honors Research Conference for community college students, hosted by UC Irvine, and get published.
I was able to work with professors on certain topics that I found interesting, and that was my first experience with research.
Socially, El Camino College taught me about people. I learned about the different stories that people had and wanted to share. I was the vice president of a club and with that platform, I created a food drive for students on my campus that were struggling with food insecurities and homelessness.
I read an article about how there were students on campus that were struggling with homelessness and food insecurities; and as a member of the larger campus community, I believed that one of the many ways to make the stories of these students valid and heard was to create an awareness through a food drive in my club and that was what I did.
These are the many experiences and opportunities that community college offered me.
I AM SHARING BECAUSE...
I believe that every person has a story, and that every person is a storyteller.
There were many moments in community college where my story was full of storms and cliffhangers. It was confusing and I was unsure about how it would end, or if I would have my “happily ever after.” I shared my story on my graduation day, as the student speaker, about how “Hope” taught me to persevere through these storms and cliffhangers.
My story is my testimony and truth about hope. For anyone reading my story, I’d like to say that hope will not ask anything from you in return, but do not abandon hope. It will always lead you to the road you need to walk down, no matter how rough the storm.