Pedro Vallinas, Cuba

Pathway to Radiologic Technology

I feel great about having earned these certificates because they are recognizing my hard work in college. These certificates show other college students that working hard and never giving up will help them to be successful at college. Also, these certificates show that it does not matter if English is not your first language; you can do it. I came to the U.S. in July 2014, dropping out of the second year of medical school in my home country, Cuba. My first college experience was actually on the summer of 2016 when I took Math 140 and Spanish 100 at Cypress. The following semester was my first ESL class, ESL 184. Now I keep chasing my dream of working in the medical field. I am completing the prerequisites for the Radiologic Technology program at Cypress College to start next year.

Hiroki Funahashi, Japan

Pathway to Aviation Travel Careers

I feel so excited about these certificates mainly because I worked very hard to finish ESL classes. It was very challenging since I did not have enough experiences using English in my life. I do not have high educational background yet, so finishing a college program in another country and being able to have these certificates on my resume will be amazing. These certificates are also kind of bonus for me because I needed to finish ESL classes anyway, and I can get more than one. I am proud of myself with what I have accomplished.

Priscilla Nguyen, Vietnam

Pathway to Diagnostic Medical Sonography

My name is Priscilla, and I am so happy and grateful to know that I am eligible for ESL Milestones Certificate!

Going to college with English as my second language is very challenging for me and my friends because we faced many challenges. We had to face situations where people had a hard time listening to us. We had to use hand figures to describe our expression. They took a longer time to guess and kept asking, ‘Is that what you mean?’ We couldn’t express ourselves in classrooms because we [were] afraid one of our friends would judge us by our broken English. We did not have native friends here because we didn’t have much the same in culture and lack of confidence in communication. People who are non-native speakers pretty sure know all situations above. However, I am so glad that we fight the challenges and we win. Now, I am earning the ESL Milestone Certificate, which is an indication of a proud path that I took during three years of taking requirement classes for DMS program.

To be able to earn these certificates, I completed 184, 185, & 186 ESL classes at Cypress College beginning spring 2015.  After finishing all ESL classes, I really appreciate the knowledge which I learned from ESL professors who are very caring and patient with us. They guide us to our desired path. My vocabulary got bigger. I can read faster and getting ready for heavy materials in other classes. Moreover, the most important thing is I gained confidence to discuss any subject with my classmate in the group project as well as have small talk with native speakers.

Now I can use these certificates for my resumes for the job interview purposes. I believe it is a fancy way to show off to your employer with a lot of colorful certificates along with your license rather than only a license and a tiny writings through the college transcript. Sometimes, you transfer and have many transcripts so they don’t really look at them, and they don’t know which class you already took.

Finally, I want to say thank you to Professor Wada who dedicates a lot so I and many others and have the ESL Certificates to put in the resume. I hope many ESL students will apply for these certificates, which is very beneficial for education path and careers.

Thada and Madi Myat Su, Burma

Thada Myat Su

Studio Arts, Animation emphasis

My name is Thada Myat Su. I would like to thank to Professor Kathy Wada for informing me about the ESL Milestone Certificate to eligible students. This certificate is very meaningful for me. Also, I would like to thank all of the ESL professors for helping me with my English. As I am an international student form Burma, I had a language barrier when I first arrived at Cypress College. But, I realized that I am better with the help of professors and the ESL program. The ESL pathway leads me to what I really want to be. For the first and second semester at Cypress College, I did not know what I really want to do in my life. But, the ESL program provided me to understand more about the American education system and culture. ESL is not just helping me with English. It helps me to make a right decision for my life. Without this program, I will not be a better student. ESL helps me to achieve my goal. For spring 2020, I will be studying studio arts in Cypress College and will transfer to a university. I can’t say thank you enough to the ESL program for helping me to achieve my dream to be a studio artist.

Madi Myat Su

Studio Arts, Animation emphasis

This is Madi Myat Su. First of all, I would like to thank indeed Professor Kathryn Wada for gladly informing me about ESL Milestone Certificates to eligible students, and the community which honour ESL students with Milestone Certificates. I am truly blissful when I got the eligibility email from Professor Wada.

Wordlessly, the certificates are so much meaningful to me as it is a pathway to everywhere that I can dream of. Admittedly at the first year at Cypress College, I did not know what I wanted to be in my life, and taking the ESL 183 at first semester, however, was a right choice for me. As I am a foreign student from Burma, I do not deny the fact that I have a language barrier. I did have a lot of struggles to understand the accent of American people when I first arrived to the United States. I finished my high school only in my country and deciding to come to the U.S. to study in Cypress College was quite challenging for me at first. But I never regret making this decision because all the professors I met in Cypress College are very kindhearted and welcoming. In addition, without the help of ESL program at Cypress College, I could not imagine where my life would be. Thankfully, the ESL program really pushed me toward what I wanted to be, and it is a real pathway that lead me to the major of my dream finally.

Long Ong, Vietnam

Pathway to Transfer: Psychology

CSULB transfer, Fall 2020

One universal tool to connect people from around the world is language. While language can be a tool of connection, it can [also] be a barrier preventing people from achieving their goals. America has been long known for being a country of immigrants.

One of the few things most people didn’t realize is the language barrier behind every successful immigrant person in America that they have to overcome. In order to be successful, we first need to adapt to a new environment. In order to adapt to a new environment, we need to learn. In order to learn, we need to communicate. But to communicate, we first need to understand the language in that environment.

As a result, it takes great effort for immigrant people to be successful in America. ESL Milestone Certificates are the proof of those efforts. ESL Milestone Certificates are not just ordinary certificates; they are the evidence of many hours of trying and proof of how far immigrants have come to get here.

I think ESL Milestone Certificates give proof and credit for hard-working time immigrants spend to overcome the language barrier. They also encourage immigrants to go even further on their way to success.

Yohannes Tade, Ethiopia

Pathway to Radiologic Technology

Hi. My name is Yohannes. I am originally born and raised in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country that is found in Africa, specifically east Africa. Despite the mental image that people have about Africa, it is not as close as the news or media presents it to be. Coming to a different country and starting a new journey was scary beyond imagination. I came to the States about four years ago. I did not know what to expect, besides the glamorous lifestyle I saw in movies and music videos. Reality and Hollywood were two different things, though. When I was back home, I finished high school and was about to attend university but plans changed, and I had to move to the States. Luckily, Professor Wada’s ESL 185 class was my first college class experience in the U.S. I still remember the feeling like it was yesterday. I remember pulling in the parking lot and getting ready to go to class with confusion and mixed feelings, wondering if every student is lost like me or had everything figured out.

The only way I can express Professor Wada’s class was life changing. No amount of words or description would describe the experience of taking that class. Professor Wada linked the two worlds for me: college life and the outside life. I remember her telling us the gestures, the overall cultural norms of the States from sports to music.

The semester ended [and] we all parted ways, but what I learned in that class will always be with me. I went ahead and finished all my higher English classes with a “B” or better. When I got the email about the certificate, I felt beyond excited. It represented all the hard work I put in to all my college career to get to where I am today. It might be an easy thing for some people, but for a young, black Ethiopian, who came not so long ago to the States with confusion, it represents everything. It represents accomplishment, it represents that we have support too, it represents that all our hard work has value, and it represents that we can aim and execute big too.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who is involved in creating this certificate and want to express my deepest gratitude to Professor Wada for believing in us and giving this young, black, immigrant kid with confusion in his head at first when he showed up at her class, hope and recognition for his hard work.

Jennifer Palacios, Ecuador

Pathway to Dental Hygiene

Dreams and Awards 

The journey for foreign students can be more difficult because of the barriers of communication. Thankfully, ESL professors take part in this journey in order to help their students to achieve their professional objectives.

My mother language is Spanish, but I adapted English as my second language into my life.  After seven years, I decided to pursue the associate degree in dental hygiene. In my case, the counselors recommended me to take three main prerequisites: ESL 184C, ESL 185C, and ESL 186C.

Later, I completed these three different levels. Professors and classmates prepared patiently extensive essays step by step. By the end of the semester, my classmates and I built incredible cause/effect, similarity/contrast, and research essays. In other words, these essays were ESL students’ dreams – dreams and thoughts that were embodied in their final presentation packages.

Surprisingly, I recently received incredible news from Professor Wada, who is my former ESL 185C professor. In the email, she informed me that Cypress College approved Milestone Certificates to current and former ESL students.

As a result, I felt a combination of feelings in my heart.  As a former ESL student, I felt appreciated, included, and even supported by the Cypress College community and my former ESL professors.

To begin with, the Milestone Certificate reflects Cypress College gratitude toward the hard work of ESL students and professors. During multiple semesters, ESL professors emphasize the importance of preparation as advance readers and writers to their students. For example, ESL professors demonstrate that they truly care for their foreign student’s performance in other future advanced classes such as philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

Similarly, ESL professors communicate in a very compassionate way grammatical errors to their foreign students. For instance, my ESL professors had a great positive attitude during every class. ESL professors understood their students’ difficulties [with] writing complete sentences, but they were always motivating their students to succeed toward their obstacles.

[T]he Milestone Certificate represents admiration for the hard work of the ESL professors and their ESL students in Cypress College.

Despite the fact that the award displays respect for the great effort of the ESL team, Milestone Certificates represent the inclusion of foreign students into the Cypress College community.

Foreign students go through the process of adapting to American culture by first learning English as a second language. In particular, one could say that a foreign student works twice as hard than their other classmates. ESL students continuously analyze a second language, and they have to learn to adapt to new ways of socialization in the American culture.

Although the barriers of communication are great obstacles, the tenacity of ESL students is amazing. Indeed, ESL students display determination in order to acculturate their personal lives into the American culture. Thus, Milestone Certificates demonstrate the incorporation of foreign students into Cypress College.

Beyond the determination of ESL students and professors, the Milestone Certificates demonstrate support to current and former foreign college students. These awards promote the acceptance of a diversity of cultures from all over the world in many classrooms. In fact, Cypress College is one multicultural community. To illustrate, in the ESL 186C class, my classmates were from fifteen different countries. Interestingly, Professor Simmons taught the students how intercultural communication is essential in this world.

Today, many of these students receive their awards as a symbol of great respect for their multicultural cultural backgrounds and their intercultural communication. I feel grateful for the acceptance and kindness provided by Cypress College professors toward their foreign students.

The word milestone denotes that a person has recorded certain number of miles in their pathway, or the proximity toward their major professional goals. I have finally recorded a milestone, which indicates to me that I am closer to obtaining my professional associate degree. Once again, I am thankful for the participation of ESL professors in each of their student’s academic preparation for their futures. In a similar way, I felt appreciated and included as foreign student at Cypress College.

Lastly, my message for current ESL students is that the academic journey seems difficult, yet an extensive second language knowledge is the best reward at the end of each ESL student story.

Karima Berrada, Morocco

Pathway to Transfer: SEM, Computer Science & Engineering

Transfer to UCI, Fall 2020

It is an honor to be part of the ESL program at Cypress College, and I feel very proud to receive the ESL Milestone certificates.

Learning English as a third language was my biggest challenge when I came to the USA six years ago. I decided to attend a community college to obtain an associate degree and transfer to a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering. I chose to attend Cypress College as they have one of the best ESL programs, and I believe that I made the right choice. I had to take ESL classes during my first two semesters at Cypress College, and I am so grateful to Professor Wada and Professor Simmons for their guidance.

The program helped me to improve my English-language skills and prepared me to take and achieve successfully the English 100 class, prerequisites, and general education classes. By earning these certificates, I feel very confident and motivated. The ESL Milestone certificates are the best rewards that English learners could get after overcoming many challenges and achieving their goals. Finally, I am about to transfer to UCI with a perfect GPA, and I would take the opportunity to thank all the faculty and staff at Cypress College ESL Department who were involved in my studies and helped me to obtain these certificates.

Anh Nguyen, Vietnam

Pathway to Nursing

I feel really happy about the ESL Milestone certificates. This is the first semester these certificates are approved; therefore, I am honored to be one of the first students in California receiving them. I came to the U.S. in 2015 and attended ESL 183 at Cypress College as my first educational experience in America. Back then, I would never think that my time investment in ESL classes would be recognized. I took them just simply to build a stronger foundation and move forward to higher education.

In my opinion, these certificates are amazing because they are proof of students’ hard work as well as a big motivation for ESL students.

Halloween Parade, 2019

DSS Expo, Fall 2019

Annual Cup and Bowl Sale 2019

UndocuAlly Painting

Concrete Casting

National Coming Out Day 2019

Dia de los Muertos 2019

Superintendent Breakfast, Fall 2019

Club Carnival 2019

Timely Warning: Laptop Stolen in Strong-Arm Robbery

Primary Cypress College Logo

Timely Warning

October 7, 2019

A student reported that two men stole a laptop as the student walked through Lot 9 this morning. Campus Safety and members of the Cypress Police Department are investigating the crime as a strong-arm robbery because of the threat of force used in the crime. The incident happened today at about 10:40 a.m.

The suspects were in a blue 1990s Honda Civic with sun damage on the driver’s door. The men were described as being Hispanic, in their 20s and the passenger wore a white shirt, dark khaki pants, and had a goatee.

Campus Safety and Cypress Police are continuing their investigation. Anyone with information about the incident or about the suspect should contact Campus Safety at (714) 484-7387. Imminent threats should be reported to 911.

Students and employees are reminded to report incidents or suspicious behavior to Campus Safety and/or Cypress Police immediately. Additionally, students are reminded that Campus Safety can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (714) 484-7387, and that it is important to program that number into their mobile phones for quick access.

Timely warning notices are issued for any situation or incident involving a serious or continuing threat. Timely warnings are intended to promote safety within the campus community. Additional information is contained in the college’s Annual Safety and Security Report.

Cypress College issues Timely Warnings in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act. For more information, visit: cypresscollege.edu/services/campus-safety/

View as PDF

Spring 2019 Emergency Lockdown Drill

About the Drill

Cypress College will participate in a lockdown drill on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. All members of the campus community are required to participate in drills.

The drill will be held at 10:15 a.m. There will be no alarm to start the drill. Faculty and managers will be asked to play a video (see below) in their classrooms and work areas. There will be no evacuations this year.

Instructions and Resources

  • The drill will commence at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
  • The drill will commence with a video broadcast on campus via the college’s phone system and over the P.A. system.
  • We ask that you play the video in your class.
  • Participation in the drill is required.

Important Resources:

Drill Video:

This is the video from Ready Houston to play during the lockdown drill.

Text Alerts and Emergency Notifications

Students are encouraged to utilize myGateway to update their personal information for text alert messaging in the event of an emergency. Students must provide their personal information in myGateway to receive these text notifications.

Follow these steps to verify that your cell phone and email address are entered and current:

  • Sign into myGateway.
  • Go to the “Personal Information” channel under the “Student” tab.
  • Click on the item “Set Text Message Alert Preferences.”
  • When clicking on “Set Text Message Alert Preferences,” the next screen will allow you to enter your cell phone information, the cellular service provider, the level of messages you wish to receive and the campus or campuses you want to be notified about.
  • After entering your information, click on the “Submit” button.

Our experience has proven Twitter to be a reliable method of emergency communication. In addition to asking you to sign up for text messages (see above), please help out by signing up to follow the college on Twitter. You can do so by visiting twitter.com/CypressCollege and clicking on the “follow” button.

Muralism Presentation 2019

#CYProud: Felicia Cleaver, Psychology

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Felicia Cleaver

Felicia Cleaver grew up a Los Angeles native who graduated high school with honors, but did not immediately pursue higher education. At the age of 25 and as a single mother of two, Felicia found herself drawn to pursuing a degree for her children and out of curiosity. Felicia received her associate degree in psychology and liberal arts with an emphasis in social and behavioral sciences in May 2019. She started an outreach program for young women in Hawaiian Gardens, along with a recreation program for special-needs youth. She is transferring to California State University, Fullerton in fall 2019 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in communications.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and raised in the ghettos of Los Angeles, California. While growing up, I showed leadership skills in all school activities, but was caught in the whirlpool of dysfunctional family life. My focal point became a goal to get grades that would allow me to enter college and be able to choose a career. I pulled myself up, pushed through the family deterrences, graduated high school with honors, and am now a first-generation college student. I have and will achieve any goal I set my mind too. Currently, I’m striving to enhance my communication and motivation skills while keeping a GPA above a 3.5 as a full-time student, which can attest to my drive and ambition in completing my educational goals, along with raising two beautiful children. If you’re reading this, just know, anything is possible if you believe in yourself!

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose to come back to college for one main reason: curiosity. My greatest motivation for returning to college is my two children. In the beginning, I was a little hesitant and only took one course because it had been almost eight years since I last stepped foot in a classroom. In all honesty, I never thought or was certain if I was ever going to go back to school. Then I stumbled across Cypress College simply by driving by it. Something sparked inside of me (curiosity), and I enrolled. It was the best decision I ever made, and Cypress College, in turn, has been the best community college I could have asked for! I enrolled in Cypress College in the spring of 2017, and at the time I was a 25-year-old single mother of two, but desperately decided that I needed to take action to get an education I deserve.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

Curiosity got me in the door, but my motivation has pushed me through my past two years at Cypress College. Only having a part-time job working eight hours a week, it is hard financially, but going to school and understanding financial aid and being part of the EOPS and CalWORKs programs has made all the difference. Similarly, I am a participant in the CARE program and have found the networking events, grants, seminars, and scholarship opportunities all beneficial. I have utilized my time well at Cypress College and the programs set in place to help students succeed is what makes this college great.

I will also recognize the Learning Resource Center and endless tutors in the math and English centers for all their help! Spring of 2019, this is my last semester and the first semester that had child care open up at Cypress College. Those two days and eight hours every week are really beneficial for a single parent, and I could not be happier about the direction that this college is going. If it was not for these programs, it would be very difficult to get to school when having two children. My curiosity turned into motivation, then determination. In my last semesters, I have been able to broaden my net and be involved in clubs such as the Psychology Club and obtain the title of president of Psi Beta on campus, which is a national honor society for students attending two-year colleges.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I have a profound interest in the studies of the mind, so my career goal is in studying psychology. The purpose and passion of my life is to discover a greater understanding of the universe and its people. Specifically, I plan to better grasp the beauty and miracles of this world and share them with each person I come in contact with. I know my doctoral degree is further in the future, but I’m doing everything now to obtain practice in this field. I am also starting an outreach program to young women in the city of Hawaiian Gardens as well as a special needs recreation program for the youth.

Everything I do in my time now is free of charge. I am gaining experience in this field on top of my book work. I am a bright and intelligent student whose potential is endless. I want to help people who need help, who need support, or who need resources, are neglected, or otherwise at a disadvantage in life. If I can help 1 out of 10 people then I know I made a difference in the world and a difference in the life of that individual. You don’t have to be a superhero to have a mission!

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

A student’s accomplishments are directly related to the daily efforts of faculty and staff at any college. I am pleased to say there is an abundance of great faculty and staff at Cypress College and I couldn’t have done this without them! There are so many that have made my journey a successful one, I want to shout out to:

  • EOPS/CalWORKs/CARE – Connie Boehler, Lili Perez, Leena Acosta
  • English Department – Nicholas Gil, Stephanie Tran
  • Psychology Department – Brandy Young, Randy Martinez, and Carlos Sandoval

Thank you all for being there for me, being guides, mentors, and writing references for me. You are all wonderful! You groomed me to be a sound professional and made working with you an interesting and memorable experience. I will always be grateful to you for your support and kindness.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

Right now I need to put my full focus on receiving my two associate degrees from Cypress College and pursuing my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Cal State University, Fullerton. Then I hope to get into a doctoral program. I will increase my communication and writing skills, while enhancing my understanding of human behavior. I’m just at the beginning, but I am a perfectionist and always strive for success.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My long-term goal is to obtain an applied doctorate and eventually become a professor at a college. I aspire to give back to students during their educational journey and encourage them the same way multiple individuals have done for me.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my time spent on pursuing scholarships. I have currently won two scholarships just through Cypress College. I will obtain two associate degrees and my bachelor’s degree from CSUF all on scholarships, not including my financial aid award. Saving money is a must, and everyone should be applying for scholarships. They are out there; you just have to do the work!

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Here are my final words of wisdom for students who want to get better grades in college: College will be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Be sure to get the best of both worlds and find the healthy balance between the studying, and contributing to your school, all while utilizing resources on campus. Finally, the best piece of advice I could ever give, and have ever received, comes from my statistics teacher in Psychology: “Take everything one… step… at… a… time.”

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

For anyone to really open a challenge within themselves they have to believe they can really do it, and, above all else, really want it (self-fulfilling prophecy)! Believe in yourself. You are your own rainbow!

#CYProud: Holly Herrera, Mortuary Science

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Holly Herrera

Holly Herrera worked as an EMT until she decided she wanted a career focusing on the surviving family members of a trauma. Committed to working in the funeral industry, she returned to school to pursue an education in mortuary science while working full time and raising a family. Holly is now a licensed funeral director and registered apprentice embalmer at a funeral home in Corona. She also hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree in forensics or criminalistics to one day work as an investigator for a coroner or in a similar medicolegal career.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Like most people, my childhood wasn’t ideal, but I am forever grateful for the experiences that have shaped me into the adult I am today. I currently live in the Inland Empire with my husband, our three children, and the most beautiful and talented fur-baby you have ever seen! I am also a licensed funeral director and a registered apprentice embalmer for a funeral home in Corona, California.

Professionally speaking, I come from a background of emergency medicine. During my time as an EMT, I encountered every aspect of humanity. I have seen the ugly, the terrifying, the promising, and the innocence of life. After some time, I felt compelled to move on to a new chapter of my career, this time focusing on the surviving family. It is a privilege to help families celebrate the life of their loved one.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Once I had committed myself to working in the funeral industry, I began to research schools. When I found that Cypress was not only within a commutable distance, but also regarded as having one of the leading Mortuary Science programs, I knew it was meant to be. Returning to school after a hiatus of raising children and working in a different career path was daunting. I felt intimidated and unsure if I could do it. My first meeting with a counselor reassured me that I was making the right choice and just how lucky I was to attend Cypress.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

It wasn’t until the third semester of my program that students and faculty were able to establish the Sigma Phi Sigma chapter here on campus. The purpose of our fraternity is to educate the public about the funeral industry and shed light on a field that is often misunderstood. I encourage all students to enhance their educational experience by participating in clubs and fraternities. You really owe it to yourself to give it a try.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Not to sound cliché, but I am passionate about life. Since working in the funeral industry, I have come to appreciate just how little time we have on this earth. Witnessing firsthand how unpredictable death can be has put my own life into perspective. Time flies by. It is a precious gift that many of us take for granted. Spend the time you have with careful words and a forgiving heart.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Each faculty member of the mortuary program has positively contributed to my time here.

Professor Grande has become a mother figure to me, whom I hold in high regard. In an industry that is historically made up of men, she has worked her way to the top and is single-handedly the most knowledgeable person of funeral law. Jolena Grande is a force to reckon with, and I admire her tenacity and appreciate her nearly impossible homework load. Professor Grande, I thank you.

Dr. de la Cruz is an aristocrat of mortuary science. He is truly a student’s advocate and holds our best interests at heart. Not surprisingly, he is also one of the most generous people I have ever met. There is never a dull moment in a DLC class. He has created a drive in all of us to become the best we can possibly be, and to do so with unfailing integrity. Dr. de la Cruz, I thank you.

Professor Collins, the fashionista of mortuary science, has the best attitude and sense of humor, both of which are desperately needed in this industry! Her door is always open to students and she takes time to hear us out and find solutions to our problems. She relates to her students and her desire to help us succeed is genuine. Professor Collins, I thank you.

Professor McCament. There are not enough sweet words to describe this man. He is the most selfless soul, commuting unthinkable miles, all in the name of teaching. When my cohort first heard that he was retiring, we legitimately felt sad. There is no end to this man’s patience. I could not have asked for a better instructor and I feel confident in my own skillset thanks to his guidance. Professor McCament, I thank you.

Lastly, but certaintly not least, Professor Nichols. Even though we had a short time with you face-to-face, you managed to get us all excited for restorative art. Even though your days are spent outside of the classroom, you are always reachable and ready to help us with any concerns. More importantly you taught us not to take ourselves seriously and to enjoy our work. Professor Nichols, I thank you.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I am currently in a two-year apprenticeship for my embalmer’s license. I will continue to work both as a registered apprentice and a licensed funeral director. I look forward to applying what I have learned here at Cypress.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My plan is to begin my undergrad in forensics or criminalistics while I am completing my apprenticeship. My aspirations are to work in the capacity of an investigator for a coroner, or in another medicolegal position.

What are you most proud of?

I will be completely honest, when I received notification that I was selected to be recognized, initially I did not feel as if I deserved it. There have been many times during the duration of my program that I wanted to give up. Through the challenges of having a family, working full-time, and attending school full-time, I questioned my choice daily. However, I stuck with it, and I refused to back down. I am proud that I am just a few weeks of completing this chapter of my life and look forward to the next challenge.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

I’d like to speak directly to those who find themselves wanting a change in careers, or who have spent their lives being a caretaker and now want to do something for themselves: You can do this. No matter what field calls your name, once you make that commitment, see it through. Life will throw all sorts of obstacles your way. There will be times that you will find yourself in tears questioning your decision. Those are the times that define us and show us just how fierce we are. Take the time to shed your tears, gather your thoughts, and move one foot in front of the other.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’d like to personally thank all the members of my cohort. We have been through some difficult times together, and I am honored to have stood alongside every one of you. I hope you all have learned something from me as I have learned from you. I wish you well and I hope to see you once again.

#CYProud: Abby Omolafe, Political Science and Dance

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Abby Omolafe

Abby Omolafe was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. She grew up in La Palma and graduated from Kennedy High School prior to starting her studies at Cypress College. Initially, she pursued an education to become a registered nurse, but later reevaluated and realized she was most passionate about working for the government and enjoyed dance. She advocates for orphans and foster youth as the current Miss High Desert Hills, and earned her associate degree in political science and dance. She transferred to California State University, Long Beach in fall 2019.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I grew up in Nigeria, Africa. I came to America when I was 12 years old. I am now graduating with my associate degree in political science and dance, which is a dream come true. This feels like the first step in achieving my goal of serving my community. I lived in La Palma, which is about 10 minutes away from Cypress. I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School. I am currently a Disney cast member, as well as the current Miss High Desert Hills.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because it was close to home, as well as cheaper than four-year universities. I am transferring to California State University, Long Beach debt free because of financial aid. Cypress also has intimate class settings, as well as great professors who are always open and willing to help students however they can.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I started as a registered nursing major at Cypress; however, the more I took classes the more I realized it wasn’t for me. After that, I talked to a counselor to explore other options. Through all this, I took dance classes and I was a part of the dance concert every semester. I found that I was most passionate about working in the U.S. government, so I started the process to get my associate degree in political science, as well as dance.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I have the honor of being part of the Miss America Organization. I have been working as a local title holder on my platform which is “Until They All Have Homes: Advocating for Orphans/Foster Youths.” With this platform, I work with organizations like Olive Crest, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Together We Rise to help foster children find loving homes and safe environments. I also do suitcase drives all over California to provide foster children with suitcases filled with toiletries, stuffed toys, books, and blankets. I am most passionate about my platform because I am also an orphan. I was adopted by my maternal grandmother and brought to America after I lost my parents at the age of 10. Unfortunately, the environment I was put in after I was adopted was highly toxic and abusive, so I know what it’s like to not have anyone to stand up for you. I am determined to make a difference in the lives of foster children.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Professor Maha Afra has been an amazing role model to me. She is one of the most caring and dedicated professors at Cypress College. Knowing my story and background, she always makes sure to ask about my health. She is always encouraging and gives me hope whenever I feel like giving up. Maha always asks after the well-being of her students and even has pillows in her office to make sure we have a safe space we can escape to. She goes above and beyond to make sure we are successful in our educations while we have healthy bodies and minds.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I am transferring to the California State University, Long Beach for a bachelor’s degree in political science. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I would like to take the LSAT and go to law school.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My career ambition is to become a prosecutor at a district attorney’s office and eventually work in the U.S. Congress.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I now live on my own, but I am still able to take care of myself and go to school to achieve my dreams. As an orphan, I have found my own family in my pageant sisters, my fellow cast members, my fellow dancers, and the amazing men and women who have helped me in one way or another. I pulled myself out of a toxic and abusive environment with the help of my aunt and all my supporters.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world. For current and future Cypress College students, my one advice is to never give up just because the road is hard. The path to success is not a short one. Learn from your mistakes, celebrate the little achievements and always remember you can achieve anything with discipline, optimism, resilience, and hard work.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

If I can do it, you can too!

#CYProud: Minh Nguyen, Chemistry

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Minh Nguyen

Minh Nguyen graduated high school in Vietnam, then moved to the United States to pursue higher education, with sights on becoming an emergency doctor and medical researcher. “I will be able to contribute my work to improve the quality of life for people who, unfortunately, do not have the basic rights and benefits as others,” he said. After encountering some health setbacks of his own, Minh became heavily involved on campus in the (STEM)2 program, Chemistry Club, and as a supplemental instruction leader. In 2019, he was named the the college’s American Chemical Society, Orange County Section’s Outstanding Chemistry Student of the Year. He is transferring to University of California, Irvine in fall 2019 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

After graduating high school in Vietnam, I started my new academic journey in the United States. Everything was on the right track after I got accepted to Cypress College until I was brought to the emergency room at Orange Coast Memorial Hospital for a surgery; my life was crumbling down again. It was a hard time for me when I had to keep doing great in my first semester at school while suffering from my hurting wound every single day. The hospital bills were stacking up in the mailbox and my homework due dates were coming one by one. I could not sit or walk normally, so I lay on my bed with my vocabulary and science books. Countless hours were spent in my room trying to understand the English words and science concepts that I missed. After a massive amount of effort, I finally got a constant 4.0 GPA at Cypress College. I got over that extremely difficult time of my life and nothing could hold me back now.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I visited many community colleges in Orange County: Golden West College, Cerritos College, Coastline College, and Cypress College. I was impressed by the clean and beautiful campus with a lot of trees at Cypress, especially the ducks by the pond in the middle of the campus, which gave me a feeling of comfort. It motivated me even more when I contacted the international office for more details. They are very friendly and very open to welcome students. I felt like this would be my second home in my college life; therefore, I decided to take this journey together with Cypress.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
When everything went back to normal, I started to get involved in our campus. Based on my good performance at Cypress College, I was chosen as be a one-on-one tutor for math, chemistry, and physics in the Learning Resource Center in spring 2017 and was accepted as a supplemental instruction (SI) leader for Calculus II in fall 2017. After two semesters of my great efforts, I got promoted to be a mentor for SI in fall 2018.

I have been a (STEM)2 scholar since fall 2016. Based on the (STEM)2 program, I had a chance to conduct hands-on research at University of California, Irvine in summer 2018. This was when I got a step closer to my dream. The research was about biomedical engineering techniques. Along with my research group, we contributed to engineering a mechanical device that tested effects in collagen density from fibroblast production due to applying mechanical stress. The research has given me even more motivation to study and work harder for this major.

Also during that summer, I got elected to be the Chemistry Club president for the next two semesters. As a campus club, we provide the environment for students who are interested in STEM fields to work with professionals, conduct outreach activities, promote chemistry, and inspire young generations about science. It is also my best and most memorable moment when I was nominated by Professor Robin De Roo for the American Chemical Society, Orange County Section’s Outstanding Chemistry Student of the Year 2019.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I came from Vietnam where people must work as hard as possible just to barely earn their daily bread. Like other developing countries, we have a low education system, corruption, and one of the worst medical systems. Health is the priority. Without health, nothing can be done. My final goal, which has been the ambition and inspiration of my life, is to be an emergency doctor and a medical researcher. I will be able to contribute my work to improve the quality of life for people who, unfortunately, do not have the basic rights and benefits as others. I will be able to use my abilities to explore new things or invent useful things for the future of mankind.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Words cannot fully describe how thankful I am to all of the amazing faculty and staff at Cypress College. They are all sharing a big, warm heart with the students. Especially, I would like to give a huge thanks to:

  • Professor De Roo, who is my favorite organic chemistry professor. Her enthusiasm and kindness have inspired me in chemistry. I always want to be in her class every single day no matter what. Thank you so much for being an awesome professor!
  • My coordinator, Janelle Salinas and my mentor, Francisco Perez. They are the most wonderful staff I have worked with. They are always there when we need it the most. They are always there to make us better. Without their help, I could not become a strong and skillful leader as I am now.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

For now, I will spend my summer reviewing the past materials before I transfer to UCI. I will also take some summer classes there through the Transfer Edge program. And definitely, I will reward myself by traveling and exploring new places in the summer.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I will first start with a biomedical engineering major. I am transferring to UC Irvine in fall 2019. After graduating from UCI, I will apply for medical schools to earn the M.D.-Ph.D. degree in eight more years.

What are you most proud of?

From the bottom of my heart, my biggest pride is my mother. She is the one and only person who I will always work my best for. In the past, she had lived in misery from an unhappy marriage. Domestic violence had been killing her every day for more than 14 years. Even though she suffered a lot in her life, she is always fighting for the best for her kids, me and my sister. My mom has spent her whole life for us. Now, it is my time to do the best for her.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

You have nothing to lose, so do not hesitate. Dr. Rajab, my biology professor, said, “When in doubt, ask about.” Yes, be ready to let your curiosity glow. I am definitely sure it will take you somewhere good. You may not even imagine how you got there so easily.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

“Be awesome and join Chemistry Club!”

#CYProud: Jolene Gazmen, Communication Studies and English

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Jolene Gazmen

In high school, Jolene Gazmen didn’t apply to any colleges because she didn’t think she would ever be good enough. After becoming a mother, she was determined to be someone her daughter would be proud of, so she took the step to return to school and pursue a degree. Though she initially intended to focus solely on her studies and raising her young daughter, she ended up joining the college’s Forensics Team and even took over as captain. Jolene is transferring to University of California, Berkeley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She dreams of one day writing and starring in her own show.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

My name is Jolene Gazmen. I’m a Leo and love long walks on the beach… No, but in all seriousness, I am a California native, born and bred. Honestly, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I am so happy that I’m finally here. I am a returning student, having graduated high school a decade prior. I sometimes feel out of place, but then I remind myself that everyone lives by their own timeline, and I continue to push through. About 15 years prior, I shut down because of situations in life I wasn’t equipped to deal with at the time. They left me with confidence that could be measured in teaspoons and a head full of self-doubt. I drifted through life, not really trying, hardly even living. But when my daughter was born, I decided to make a change. I had been out of school for so long at that point, but I was determined to become someone that my daughter would be proud to call her mother. So I returned to school, enrolling in Cypress in order to pursue some of my passions.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because I needed a fresh start, and I’m so glad I did! Cypress is not only a beautiful campus, but such a welcoming environment! The staff, counselors, and especially professors helped to empower me, encouraging a girl with crippling self-doubt like me to go for what she wants. When I was in high school, I didn’t even bother to apply to colleges because my lack of confidence convinced me that I would never be good enough. But this time around, I had so much support, so many people in my corner rooting me on, and I had the courage to apply to my dream UC! I’m pleased to say that I’ll be attending Cal beginning fall 2019! It’s something I’d only dreamed of, but Cypress helped to make that dream a reality.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have been involved in the Cypress College Forensics (Speech and Debate) team. It’s not something that I was planning on becoming a part of. As an older, returning student, my primary objective going into school this time around was to minimize my social life, to just get through school while raising a toddler and working. I thought my plate was full and that anything else would be too much. Plus, like many students out there, the idea of speaking as solely myself in front of a room full of people seemed like a terrifying thought. Thankfully, I had a truly spectacular COMM 100 professor who convinced me that it was something I could excel in. She empathized with everything I had going on and worked with my schedule, but still pushed me to find strengths in myself that I didn’t even know that I had. I’m proudly the captain of our growing Forensics Team and have even gone on to win awards, which is something I would have never thought I could do when this first began.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

My passions are two-fold: writing and acting. When I was at my lowest in life, it was those things that gave me a sense of purpose and saved my life. They provided me with an outlet, a way to sort through things that I couldn’t make sense of. These things are some of my loves in life, and I don’t know where I would be if I ever had to give them up.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The counselors at this school are some of the best I’ve ever encountered. They don’t feel dismissive nor are they judgmental when you tell them where you’ve been or what you want to do, even if your previous track record wasn’t that great (such as it was for myself). They encouraged and reassured me that nothing was out of reach, and that I wasn’t “behind” in life because there is no right or wrong time to go for what I want, just so long as I go for it.

I’ve also been fortunate to have some of the best professors. They are knowledgeable, empathetic, helpful and, most importantly, passionate. None are just going through the motions of teaching, but rather, really taking pride in what they do. Their passion helps me to feel excited for what’s to come! (A special shout out to Jen Page and Josh House, who went above and beyond in all they do for their students and the Forensics team.)

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

Like I mentioned prior, I will be entering as a junior at University of California, Berkeley this fall 2019. I am planning on majoring in English and minoring in creative writing, but I’ve also been flirting with the idea of double majoring in ethnic studies, which I just recently found a passion for thanks to another one of my ever-inspiring professors.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My long-term goals include the pursuit of my passions and the enhancement of my craft, which would be writing and acting. I’m striving to incorporate both into whatever future endeavors I choose to pursue, in one aspect or another. My dream would be to write and star in my own show.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my daughter. She is the reason I do all of this, the reason I work so hard both academically and to become an overall better person. I can truly say that I’ve pushed myself to grow beyond the girl who was just resigned to her depression into someone who seeks help, who pushes past her comfort zone to find parts of herself she didn’t know she had. I have become an overall better person with her around, and I hope that by working so hard and following my dreams, it teaches her to do the same. My biggest hope is that I make her proud.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

My advice to any current or future Cypress College students would be to utilize all the resources available to you. Cypress College offers some of the most wonderfully supportive staff and programs, all of which are designed to help you throughout your journey through Cypress. I hadn’t had the best experiences prior to coming here and I was hesitant about asking for help, but this second time around, I took the leap and I’m so glad that I did!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Not at the moment, but thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you have the best day, whoever you are!

#CYProud: Timothy O’Connor, Mathematics

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Timothy O’Connor

The loss of a close family member is a difficult situation for anyone, but for Timothy O’Connor, it was an event that led him on a downward spiral into poverty, homelessness, and addiction. After receiving help to get himself back on his feet, Timothy chose to pursue his passion in electronics. He is transferring to University of California, San Diego to continue his studies in electrical engineering. He hopes to work in control systems or power generation, and is interested in clean energy.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I grew up in Orange, California. My father worked in the defense industry and my mother was a computer programmer. Growing up, I played a lot of sports and musical instruments. I played golf, football, and baseball, as well as the saxophone and snare drum. After high school, my father passed away, and I was deeply affected by it. I took a long absence from school, and worked in the restaurant industry, until I finally decided to commit to getting my associate degree and transferring.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress because when I decided to come back to school, I didn’t have a car, and Cypress was close enough to ride the bus to and cheaply commute using Uber if need be.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have been involved in the (STEM)2 program here at Cypress, I was an SI leader for Physics 201/210, and am now currently a tutor for math and physics in the Learning Resource Center and Math Learning Center.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about figuring out how things work, especially cars and electronics. I love taking things apart and building little gadgets. I have a few Raspberry Pis that I’ve made to emulate retro games and practice ethical hacking. I also love anything to do with space exploration. I have a replica of the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon, built from Lego, in my bedroom.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

My calculus and physics professors had the most profound impact on my time here at Cypress. Professor Morvan taught me how to conceptualize calculus and clearly articulate what I was doing in my work. Professor Nusbaum showed me how interesting series and integrals could be, and always made class interesting by showing interesting proofs and giving challenging problems for extra credit. Professor Plett always brought such a pleasant energy to her classes and made some extremely difficult topics palatable and digestible. Professor Mercado put me on the right track toward being able to understand physics on a conceptual level. Dr. Armale made mechanics fun with his in-class demonstrations and pop culture references. Dr. Subramaniam pushed me to always perform my best and to not give up. She would show me where my weaknesses were, and it forced me to confront and conquer them. Dr. Hall made things very interesting in the topics of waves, optics, and thermodynamics. He would show us tools such as Taylor series approximations and helped me link together what I learned in calculus with what I was learning in physics. All these professors made a truly profound impact on my time here at Cypress, and I am so grateful to have been one of their many pupils.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I plan on transferring to University of California, San Diego to continue my studies in electrical engineering. I support myself by working in restaurants, but I want to continue tutoring part time in calculus and physics. The opportunity to do that has kept my mind sharp, reminds me of what I have forgotten, and forces me to relearn things, keeping my skills sharp for more difficult courses.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I want to work in either control systems or power generation. I would love to be able to design better controls for cars, airplanes, or satellites. I also feel as though efficient and clean energy generation is crucial for our success as a society. I feel as though the topic of clean energy gets too politicized for there to be ample progress. One day, I hope to assist in creating something that will help our planet, society, and future generations to come.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of beating addiction. After my father died, I developed a severe issue with substance abuse. I was homeless at times, broke, jobless, and at the true nadir of my life. I was finally able to get some help and pull myself out of it. I am now able to pursue my dreams and have taken care of myself the whole time since.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

One is that the world does not owe you a thing. You can only control how you react to situations, and when you can understand that, you will have strength to persevere through tough times with your family, classes, jobs. Things won’t always go the way you want them to go, but you don’t ever have to give up. I’ve always tried to reassess my part in how things might not have gone my way and improve my future attempts at pursuing my goals as best I can.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would just like to tell people to dream big. Even if you fall a little short, you’re destined to do something good.

#CYProud: Vy Vu, Business Administration

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Vy Vu

Vy Vu grew up and worked as a travel agent in Vietnam before coming to the United States. Intent on finding success in the States, she chose to pursue an education at Cypress College, not imagining that she would be in a position to transfer to a four-year university after just two years. She aspires to open her own travel agency to promote cultural tourism between Vietnam and the United States. She is transferring to University of California, Irvine to earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a combined master’s degree in finance.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States from Vietnam four years ago. When I came here, I realized that the best way for me to be successful in the United States was to attend college. Like other foreign students, I started taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, which helped me improve my academic writing and communication skills. From there, my experience at Cypress College has exposed me to and offered me opportunities beyond anything that I imagined. Cypress College has been my personal ‘movable feast’.

When I first started at Cypress College, I had not imaged that two years later I would be applying to transfer to a University of California. I did not think I was good enough. And I never imagined that I would be offered the opportunities and the resources to adapt to life in a new country all while building an educational foundation that would allow me to matriculate to the country’s premier public university system. However, my family and Cypress’ professors encouraged me to try my best, and this encouragement was a large component of my motivation to set my sights high. It took a little finagling. Due to scheduling conflicts I had to take a couple of math classes at another college in order to meet the UC transfer requirements before the application deadline. This included taking one of the classes as an intersession course and the other at the same college because the intersession course did not finish until after my last semester at Cypress had already started. Through it all, the professors and counselors at Cypress completely supported and encouraged me. I was so proud of myself and of the education that I received at Cypress when I got my acceptance letter to University of California, Irvine. From here, it’s up and away as I focus on my interest in business and lay the foundations of building my own business, a business that I envision also as a cultural catalyst.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I still remember the first time I visited Cypress College. When I entered into the Student Center, I just looked around because I did not know who I could ask for help. One of the Cypress staff members instantly recognized that I was a new student and came to help me fill out the application form. I really appreciated her assistance. It made me feel that Cypress’ commitment to students was exceptional and that the staff was there for each and every student with a helpful and friendly outlook. My choice to attend Cypress College was an easy choice to make!

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have been involved in Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) for three years. I attended transfer workshops and went on field trips to visit Cal State Fullerton and UCI, organized by EOPS. In addition, I joined the Business Club at Cypress College, which has given me opportunities to see the inside workings of local businesses such as Boardriders. It was exciting to see how the company worked and to have a chance to speak directly with the company representatives in order to look for an internship. Furthermore, I also participated in the 2019 Digital Innovation & Ideathon Competition at Cypress College where I had the opportunity to learn to create an app to help students cope with mental health problems that may challenge them or their friends and colleagues. Participation in these events very much enriched my experiences and education as a student at Cypress College, and I really enjoyed the social and intellectual aspects of the competitions, career fairs, and extracurricular activities that Cypress College organized, supported, and made available to me as a Cypress student.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about helping other people. I used to work as a receptionist at an assisted senior living facility. When I worked there, I had a chance to help a number of residents who did not have family or relatives. They were lonely and needed help. Sometimes, they just came to the front desk because they needed someone to chat with them and listen to their stories. Day by day, I felt that I started to think of them and love them as I do my family. I enjoyed helping them in whatever ways they needed help, and I realized that I was filling a role that was especially valued by the Vietnamese residents who could not speak English. By the time that I had to give up the job to focus on my studies, I realized that I actually wanted them to come to the front desk to bother me so that I could see them and make sure that they were fine. For me, the residents at assisted senior living were my second family.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The faculty and staff at Cypress College are wonderful. First, I appreciate my EOPS counselor, Leena Acosta. She assisted me to make a good educational plan to achieve my goals and encouraged me to apply for Cypress Foundation scholarships. Second, professors Samantha Simmons and Alison Robertson in the ESL Department, and Professor Kendyl Covey in the English Department helped me improve my academic writing and also gave me good advice whenever I needed help. Last but not least, I cannot forget Professor Ann Solis in the Accounting Department and Professor Sidhu Parwinder in the Economics Department. They shared success stories to inspire me and also encouraged me to transfer to UCI. Without the strong support of the Cypress faculty and staff, I could not have done so well in school. They have contributed a lot to my success today, and I was extremely lucky to be their student.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

The first thing I will do after I have graduated from Cypress College is go on vacation to reward myself. Then, I will apply for a summer internship to earn experience in management before my fall term starts at UCI. I will work with UCI counselors to make an educational plan at the four-year university. I will also participate in activities, clubs, and social events at UCI in order to make new friends and create networking in school.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

Because I worked as a travel agent before leaving Vietnam, my dream job is to open a travel agency here. My goal is to create a connection between Vietnam and the United States. I envision using my contacts with travel agencies in Vietnam to bring Vietnamese tourists to the United States. I want to organize special tours for elderly Vietnamese living here who want to go back to their homeland to visit their families and friends. I also want to link the newer generations of Vietnamese Americans, who have never traveled to Vietnam, to Vietnam by creating opportunities for them to discover the beauty of their patrimony. Vietnam is not just a series of locations — Halong Bay, Son Doong Cave, or Hoi An; it is a culture — traditional, current, diverse and evolving. It touches one through all of one’s senses: eyes, ears, tongue, heart, mind, and memory. The business that I imagine creating is my dream of creating a future. It is my goal of entrepreneurship. It is my desire to create the cultural, family, heritage, and generational bridges that would be lost in time if not for the vision that I dream.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family. I was raised in a Catholic family. We trust in God. My great grandfather passed away one year ago at 107 years old. He always smiled and said “Good! Good! Thank you,” when his children, nieces, and nephews did something for him. He taught us how to love people, how to share with people, and how to forgive people, as God teaches us. My family always gathers and comes together whenever anyone needs help. They always support me in school and in my efforts to achieve my dreams. Therefore, I want to share my success with my family, make them happy, and make them proud of me.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Be an active student both in class and in school. There are a lot of good opportunities for students to expand knowledge and improve life skills. Do not be shy to ask for help. The faculty and staff at Cypress are willing to help students achieve their goals. It does not hurt if you try. Never give up on your dream. If you fail, just do it again, again, and again. Your success is Cypress’ success. “WE TAKE THIS JOURNEY TOGETHER.”

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

“You don’t have a life, because you have a future” – Jennie Beltran.

Don’t be stressed. Do your best. Forget the rest.

#CYProud: Leah Nakahara, Elementary Education

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Leah Nakahara

Leah Nakahara was born and raised a Southern California girl who is passionate about helping and teaching people, particularly children. She successfully completed the Puente Program at the college, and served as a Student Ambassador representing the college at outreach and other on-campus and community events. Leah is transferring to California State University, Long Beach to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and earn her teaching credential.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I grew up in Cypress, but moved to Lake Elsinore in the third grade. After high school, I decided to move back and go to Cypress College. In my free time, I like to hang out with my friends and family.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College for the calm and peaceful environment, the small class sizes, and the connections with local Cal States.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

At Cypress College, I was involved in the Puente Program and am currently involved in the Teacher Prep and Student Ambassador programs.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I love helping people whether that be children at the elementary schools I volunteer at or the adults I help while being an ambassador.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Every professor or faculty I have had an encounter with at Cypress has had an impact on my life; however, Kassandra Abreu has had a big part in getting me to where I am today. She has become a mentor, friend, and someone I know I can always go to for advice anytime.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

After Cypress, I am going to transfer to California State University, Long Beach where I hope to receive my bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and my teaching credential. Hopefully my master’s degree, too.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My long-term goals are to get my master’s degree and have my own classroom.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of graduating from Cypress College in two years with high honors. These past two years have been some of the toughest, and I could not have accomplished this without the support of my family and friends.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Advice that I would give to current and future Cypress College students is to not give up. Also not to skip class.

#CYProud: Musab Awad, Registered Nursing

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2019.

Musab Awad

Many times, education is a family affair. Musab Awad followed in his mother’s footsteps when he chose to attend Cypress College. Interested in science and the human body from a young age, Musab, one of four sons to a single mother, graduated from the college’s Registered Nursing program. He currently works at Hoag and and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at California State University, Fullerton.s

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I grew up here in Orange County, but we traveled out of the country many times during my childhood. My interests were mainly toward science and the human body. My mom is a single parent and when we moved back to the States in 2008, my mother was stuck with four kids, an apartment with no steady income to pay rent, and no college education. She found out about Cypress College and attended full time while working to support us. She was in EOPS, which provided her with much-needed support and relief. She motivated us to always move forward with our education and never settle for simple things in life. She taught us to aim high and work hard for everything we do in life. She introduced me to nursing and helped me to become the nurse I am today.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Nursing was a competitive major and most programs were impacted and some were expensive. I applied to many nursing programs, but Cypress College had a great nursing program. It was also near my place of residence.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I wasn’t involved very much since most of my time was spent toward earning A’s on my prerequisite nursing classes and supporting my mom while she was out working. I helped manage the house, cook dinner, laundry, any kind of chores that would bring relief to my mom when she got back from work.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about helping others in their worst times.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

All the Registered Nursing and EOPS faculty and staff!

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I am currently working at Hoag and pursuing my bachelor’s degree in nursing at California State University, Fullerton.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I plan to continue to work and experience the different areas in nursing. I plan to go for my master’s degree afterward. I aspire to be the best nurse I can be and continue to serve people in need.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my class for becoming registered nurses.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Make good connections and make new friends. It’s hard tackling things alone.

Marcia Jeffredo, Locksmith, Maintenance and Operations

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessionals like Maintenance & Operations’ Marcia.

What was your path to Cypress?
I was a licensed contractor, running a lock-and-safe service I’d started 15 years earlier when an acquaintance — who had the Cypress College food-service contract at the time — told me about the job opening. At first I was afraid it might be boring to be “stuck” at one site. What I found instead was a family-like work environment and seemingly unlimited opportunities for mutual enrichment between myself, students, and colleagues.

What inspires you as an education facilitator?
I can relate to and empathize with students who aren’t sure of themselves, especially ones who feel marginalized for whatever reason(s). I loved school, but when it came to higher education, my parents were not on board, because it was unfamiliar territory. Plus, even though I was nurtured by wonderful teachers and staff, I spent my school years fearful of being perceived as gay. That journey goes into a whole other long story, but I have on many occasions been a speaker on campus in classrooms and in forums, enlightening some people and affirming others about how damaging it is to try to be someone you’re aren’t because you’re fearful of what consequences you might suffer if you come out.

In addition, I have five decades of experience studying foreign languages. About five years ago I had a teacher who kept telling our class it’s difficult to learn a language after the age of 8. I didn’t agree and that motivated me to start some study groups and do some tutoring to prove that with the right approach and mindset, learning a new language can be fun and doable at any age.
I’ve had some memorable times working with the NOCE Independent Living Skills students too. They used to have a job-shadowing program and it was very rewarding bringing them to my shop and taking them around campus, teaching them how to be good employees. I also was a guest speaker on the topic and we had a lot of fun because I know how to reach them.

How do you balance your work at Cypress with your other professional/creative work?
In my time at Cypress College I’ve been trusted by managers and administrators to prioritize my work, creation of new projects, and shared-governance activities on my own. I like to be busy, and allowing me to have such autonomy has been the ultimate way to get the most out of my energy, experience, ideas, organizational skills, and time management skills. Outside of Cypress College I’ve volunteered for numerous organizations since my teens. I feel a responsibility to be actively involved wherever I am.

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?
I had been working on designing and managing ADA and mechanical and electronic access control projects campus-wide and a smaller project at NOCE Anaheim. It took years of building relationships in order to get the support, especially the funding, to make these things happen. All of those people left last year and the momentum got stalled. We have a lot of new colleagues bringing their own ideas to Cypress College and I’m preparing for retirement, so it’s time to pass the torch. Meanwhile I have plenty to keep me busy. With the new construction, I’m starting to make all of the new keys and pretty soon I will be pinning up all of the lock cylinders for the contractors to install.

If there is any other information you’d like to share, please feel free.
I am forever grateful that I landed here almost 19 years ago. Life is good. I will miss being surrounded by students all the time, but there are some I’ve stayed in touch with and I’m so proud of them. We all have grown so much.

Veterans’ Resource Fair

9/11 Remembrance Event 2019

Philip Dykstra, Institutional Research and Planning Director & Accreditation Liaison Officer

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessionals like Institutional Research Director Phil.

What was your path to Cypress?

I graduated from Cal State Fullerton back in 1995 with a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in urban planning. During my final year there, I started an internship as a researcher with Santa Ana College. That led to a job as a part-time researcher there and then a full-time position through 2000. I then worked as a research analyst at El Camino College and Cerritos College from 2000-2004. In February 2004, I came to Cypress as a classified professional serving as the college’s research analyst. In 2012, I was promoted to the Director of Institutional Research and Planning and the rest is history.

What inspires you as an education facilitator?

I am an inquisitive person by nature so being a researcher really appeals to me. I like trying to get to the bottom of things and determining whether things are working and more importantly why or why not. My work in the field for the last 25 years has allowed me to do just that.

How do you balance your work at Cypress with your other professional/creative work?

It can be challenging especially during certain times of the year. Having a team with two amazing classified researchers really helps. I am only able to take on additional tasks here at the college like accreditation and helping our District Management Association because our team is so wonderful and dedicated. It also allows me the opportunity to take on other opportunities that are important to me personally, like serving as a Puente mentor, because I know our team has a good handle on things.

Institutional Research Director Philip Dykstra Stands in Front of Campanile

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?

My last big project prior to my retirement in October is the review of the college mission, vision, and core values. This is a semester-long project that is an important part of the college’s accreditation. This process happens every two or three years where we come together as a college and see if we want to make any changes. With all of the changes at the state level, it will be interesting to see how we end up changing our mission statement to reflect those changes.

If there is any other information you’d like to share, please feel free.

Over the course of the last 15 years here at Cypress, it has been a wonderful experience. I have gotten the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people, and many times those interactions have turned into friendships away from the office. When I look back on my time here at Cypress I feel a sense of joy and accomplishment in all the things that the Research Office has undertaken with the goal of helping our students be successful. And for that, I am eternally grateful to all of my colleagues for allowing me to be a part of our students’ educational journey along with them.

Club Rush 2019

Welcome Back, Fall 2019

Fall Opening Day 2019

New Student Welcome Night, Fall 2019

Timely Warning: NOCE Student at Cypress College Reports Sexual Battery

Timely Warning

June 27, 2019

A female enrolled in North Orange Continuing Education coursework on the Cypress campus reported to Campus Safety that a man groped her repeatedly while on campus. The man, she reported, coerced her to get into his car at a nearby bus stop and drove her to campus, where the alleged sexual battery occurred on Tuesday afternoon.

The incident is being investigated by members of the Cypress Police Department. The NOCE student said she agreed to get in the car because she feared for her safety if she did not comply with the request.

The student immediately reported the incident to Cypress College Campus Safety, who coordinated with local police agencies to investigate the incident. The investigation is ongoing. She described the suspect as a 30-year-old black man, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 inches tall, skinny, bald, with a full beard and mustache. He was wearing a gray, long-sleeved shirt; khaki pants; and brown shoes. He also had a small, black ink tattoo on his upper right wrist.

The vehicle involved was a gray, four-door Nissan sedan.

Anyone with information about the incident or about the suspect should contact Campus Safety at (714) 484-7387. Imminent threats should be reported to 911.

Students and employees are reminded to report incidents or suspicious behavior to Campus Safety and/or Cypress Police immediately. Additionally, students are reminded that Campus Safety can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (714) 484-7387, and that it is important to program that number into their mobile phones for quick access.

Cypress College issues Timely Warnings in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act.
For more information, visit: cypresscollege.edu/services/campus-safety/

NOTE: View this document in PDF form here.

Gary Gopar, Music Department Chair

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessionals like Conn-Selmer Endorsed Artist and Music Department Chair Gary.

What was your path to Cypress?

I never had plans to make a career in teaching. I always wanted to be a great trumpet performer. While I was completing my master’s degree at California State University, Long Beach, however, I did work as a long-term substitute teacher at a middle school. That job helped me realize I never wanted to teach middle school again for the rest of my life. Soon afterward, I got my first college adjunct teaching job at Long Beach City College.

The euphoric rush of adrenaline, passion, and excitement that I feel when I perform was happening to me while I lectured to 45 students in a jazz history course. I was hooked. I immediately realized this was something I was supposed to be doing. I wanted to share my experiences, trials, and tribulations with students in regard to whatever subject matter I was teaching. I wanted college students to get real world knowledge from their instructor, just as I received from my favorite college instructors.

After two years at LBCC, I interviewed for an adjunct position at Cypress College. I taught many courses as an adjunct at Cypress, including directing the jazz big band, handling duties of a department chair (there were no full-time music faculty), plus organizing, directing, and performing in dozens of gigs for the college. This led me to be fortunate enough to interview and be hired as a full-time, tenured-track professor. Thankfully, I officially became tenured during this spring 2019 semester.

What inspires you as a teacher?

First are the professors I looked up to in my college career: Dr. Ray Briggs, Dr. Roger Hickman, and Dr. Michael Carney.

Second are the students who work hard in search of knowledge, better lives, and careers in something they are passionate about.

Third are the good deeds of others in my profession.

How do you balance your work as an instructor with your other professional/ creative work?

This is a never-ending battle. I try to find time each day to practice trumpet. This usually happens sometime between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. I have to keep the performance and creative side of my life going in order to stay balanced and happy. This gives me clout in the music business and with students. The problem with this is that it leaves almost no time for family and a personal life. Some may say that this is an exaggeration. My response to this is that my personal level of success has had a direct relationship to the amount of sacrifice I have been willing to accept to “make it” and continue to move forward.

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?

I am working on putting together a new course we are offering, MUS 114 – History of Hip-Hop/Rap. I am very excited about teaching this new class and I am certain many students will want to take it because of the popularity of this genre of music. I have a few other exciting things happening that combine education and performance, but it is too early to unveil them at this moment.

If there is any other information you’d like to share, please feel free.

I feel like I am part of a family at Cypress College. I have made many meaningful relationships here and I look forward to driving to the campus each day. The students are why I strive to be the very best at my craft and continue to get better each semester. I chose to be a professor to help students become more successful than I have. Thank you for giving me this platform to share my love and passion for music and higher education.

Fernando Rodriguez, Math

Fernando left Cypress College many years ago but credits the faculty here with making him who he is today. He has had a 14-year, award-winning teaching career. Fernando currently teaches math at Buena Park High School, where he was awarded the Buena Park High School Teacher of the Year award in 2014. He now inspires students to love mathematics, just as his Cypress instructors did for him.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I came from a low socioeconomic, farm-working family that immigrated to the United States from the state of Michoacan, Mexico. Both of my parents worked in the strawberry fields located in Orange County and Irvine. When the strawberry season was over, we would move to Northern California (Delano), and my parents would pick grapes and tomatoes. My parents would bring us to the fields to help them when we were young. Thus, at a very young age I knew what I did not want to do for the rest of my life. I am the second oldest out of five siblings and a “first generation” college graduate. I grew up in the city of Cypress and attended Mackey/King Elementary, Walker Junior High, and Kennedy High School. I was an English learner and school was difficult for me.

Why did you choose to attend Cypress College and how did being a student here help you find your first position after completion?

I decided to attend Cypress College because it was close to my home and I could walk there. Reading and writing were my weaknesses so I took more English classes than I needed to better my skills. My strength was in mathematics, so I took many math classes at Cypress College all the way up to Calculus 250A. I then transferred to California State University, Fullerton.

What were you involved in at Cypress College? How did your path unfold and who were the faculty and staff who have helped you along that path?

I was not involved in any sports or clubs while attending Cypress College. I had to work to pay for tuition. I paid my way through college, including my master’s degree. Among the staff members who helped mold who I am today were: my English teachers, Sandra Schaefer and John Weber; and my Math teachers David Petrie, Cindy Shrout, Minnie Allison, Larry Smith, and Christina Plett.

What did you pursue after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.) and where are you now?

After pursuing my studies at Cypress College, I transferred to CSUF and majored in mathematics. Afterward, I enrolled into CSUF’s credential program and received my Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. I then came into the teaching profession and returned to CSUF and received a master’s in science. I am currently teaching Algebra I, Algebra II Honors, and AP-Calculus at Buena Park High School.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My wife, Rosa Monica, and I have two boys. Fernando is 15 years old and a ninth grader at Oxford Academy in Cypress; Daniel is finishing sixth grade, and will be attending Lexington Jr. High in Cypress. My long-term goals are to make both of my son’s education paths smoother than mine. I have always instilled the importance of education to my children from a very young age. Fernando is currently taking Calculus 150AC at Cypress College through the special admit program. When the time comes and is appropriate, Daniel will take classes at Cypress College, too.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about my job. I really enjoy teaching and working with the next generation. I’m a member and been a presenter of many mathematics committees including: California Mathematics Council (CMC), California Mathematics Council – South (CMC-S), and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family and my accomplishments. I really enjoy my job and I go out of my way to reach all my students. In the 2014-2015 school year, I was named Buena Park High School Teacher of The Year; one week later, I was named Fullerton Joint Union High School District Teacher of The Year as well. My parents taught me and my siblings when we were young that “hard work would get you far.” I’m glad I listened to my parents and my college professors’ advice.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Neither my parents nor I understood the rules of the game. If I could do it all over again, I would take as many honors and AP classes through high school [as I could]. This would help me receive college credit and would allow me to accelerate.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

The advice I would give to current and future students at Cypress College is not to give up. Cypress College is an excellent place to mold your future. The staff is well prepared and very friendly and helpful.

Young Lee, ESL

ESL student Young Lee had to change her life when her husband passed away. Faced with raising her daughter by herself, Young searched for a career path that could support the two of them. She also sought, after experiencing the tragedy of her husband’s pain and illness, work that would help her change the lives of others by strengthening their health. She ultimately chose Occupational Therapy — but to get there she had to fine tune her English skills. She turned to Cypress College’s ESL Program, and says it gave her a solid foundation for the next steps of her career. Here’s to taking many more steps to helping others, Young!

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and educated in Korea and moved to the United States in 2009 because my husband was assigned to the U.S. branch of his company in Korea. At that time, I was a wife and mother who supported my husband and took care of my daughter. That all changed in 2013 when my husband, who suffered through hepatic carcinoma, passed away six months after diagnosis. I had to work for regular income, but it was difficult to find a decent job in the United States as an adult immigrant; therefore, I enrolled in Cypress College to prepare for a better future career.

Once I became interested in the field of occupational therapy, I took prerequisites at Cypress College to apply for occupational therapy schools and got in Loma Linda University OT school this year.

Why did you choose to attend Cypress College and how did being a student here help you find your first position after completion?

As a single mom who needed to take care of a young daughter, the main key to choose a college was the distance to commute between school and home. I, therefore, chose Cypress College because it was so close to my home. However, at that time, I wasn’t aware that attending Cypress College would give me an amazing chance to change my life for the better. Since I was a non-native English speaker who graduated high school and university in Korea a long time ago, taking ESL and math courses at Cypress College provided me with a solid foundation to prepare for the next steps of my academic career.

What were you involved in at Cypress College? How did your path unfold and who were the faculty and staff who have helped you along that path?

I want to especially thank Professor Kathryn Wada in ESL 185 who led me to the first step for the academic pathway in the United States. I started attending classes at Cypress College in 2015; meanwhile, there was a huge barrier that I had to face because I was a non-native English speaker. In ESL 185, however, I could learn the fundamental and essential elements and principals of reading, writing, and speaking in English. Also, the lessons through ESL class were a powerful and vital resource to take prerequisites for OT school. In addition, it helped my name be placed in the President’s Honor List of Cypress College in the Spring of 2016 and complete the 14 classes with a strong GPA of 3.95. With the continuous support and encouragements by Professor Wada, I have now achieved my current position, a graduate school student, which I couldn’t have ever imagined at that time.

What did you pursue after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.) and where are you now?

I have been able to successfully get into Loma Linda University’s OT school this year after I completed the OT program prerequisites at Cypress College.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

After the death of my husband, my view toward ailing and disabled people and their families changed dramatically. I previously lived to pursue only my own happiness and personal advantages but, now, my ultimate dream is to encourage people in need and help them to promote health and the quality of their lives.

Through the experience as a single mother and a volunteer who worked at a pediatric therapy clinic for nine months, I became interested in the early intervention of occupational therapy. I want to be an occupational therapist who has a professional knowledge base in the early intervention and work for the children who need improvement with therapeutic treatment.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

It has and always will be God and my daughter. Considering my painful experience, I might have given up on my life if I hadn’t had my faith in God. Faith encouraged me to endure the desperate situation and restore myself to have a willingness to live as a single mother. My daughter is the prime strong motivation that encourages me to pursue my academic path and professional career. Because I love my daughter and live with a great sense of responsibility for her, I can overcome immense obstacles of everyday life by myself. With her by my side, she continuously encourages and supports my dream whenever I become exhausted due to studies or work.

What are you most proud of?

As a first-generation immigrant who is not familiar with American culture and language, neither any experience with the academic programs in the United States before, I am proud of myself that I completed the whole academic process to get in a graduate school and got into an OT school eventually.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Honestly, I don’t want to do it all over again! However, if I do it again, I want to participate in classes actively. Because I was shy in front of classmates and concerned about my English pronunciation during team discussions in the classes, I couldn’t ask questions and share my opinion voluntarily. Even with my lack of abilities in English, I regret not taking many chances to talk to my classmates in the discussions.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

My main piece of advice would be for them to keep in mind that hardships that ordinary people often face will lead them to extraordinary opportunities if they work hard with perseverance. As I mentioned before, I was an ordinary wife and mother before; however, I had to endure the desperate situation that I faced to live a better life. If I did not have perseverance throughout my life and willingness for the better life, I would not have started to study at Cypress College, or I would have given up easily due to the academic and linguistic difficulties while I took classes. I believe my perseverance and willingness led me to the academic opportunity at Cypress College. Which in the end, provided me with an extraordinary chance to be an occupational therapist.

Commencement 2019

To see additional photos from the 2019 commencement ceremony, click here.

Business/CIS: Sagidah Karakra

Cypress College’s appreciation and value for diversity, along with her older sister’s academic success at the college, motivated Sagidah Karakra to pursue higher education at Cypress College. Sagidah has been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, including the Muslim Student Association and Business Club. She found her niche in accounting after participating in Accounting Career Day and this semester served as a supplemental instruction leader for Accounting 101.

Sagidah is graduating with an associate of science degree in business administration. She is transferring to Cal State Fullerton in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She one day hopes to become an accounting professor like the ones she’s had who have motivated her to work hard and never give up on her educational goals.

When asked what she is most passionate about, Sagidah said it’s “inspiring students to excel.”

“I want to make a positive impact on the success of my students,” she added. “I hope that I can continue to support and inspire accounting students to work hard and stay motivated when it comes to achieving their goals.”

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I was born in the city of San Bernardino, California. As a young child, I grew up in Palestine. I moved here to Orange County when I was 7 years old. Growing up, I had a very difficult time adjusting to the new life I had in Orange County. English was not my first language. As a result, I struggled tremendously in school. However, I’ve always been hardworking and motivated when it comes to achieving my goals. I enjoy writing and being involved on campus. I especially love creative writing. My goal is to write my own book one day.

Why did you choose Cypress College?
I decided to attend Cypress College because my sister once attended this college as well. I was amazed by how academically successful she was at Cypress College, that is, thanks to the programs she was involved in. Her success at Cypress College made me want to attend and explore my career options. I was also amazed by the long-lasting relationships she built with faculty members at Cypress College. The faculty members at Cypress College showed my sister that they valued diversity. This factor alone made me want to attend Cypress College. Choosing to attend Cypress College has been the best decision I’ve made for myself.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
I’ve been heavily involved in the MSA (Muslim Student Association) and the Business Club. In the MSA and Business Club, I took on leadership positions like being the Inter-Club Council (ICC) representative and secretary. I attended weekly ICC meetings to represent both the MSA and Business Club. My main goal in the MSA was to raise awareness about my religion and to provide a support system for Muslim students.

Through the Business club, I was able to network and meet other students who were the same major as me. Being part of the Business Club significantly impacted my college career. I decided to major in accounting because of one crucial event I attended and participated in. Attending and participating in the Accounting Career Day in the Business Club was a life-changing experience. I learned more about the accounting profession and networked with professional accountants as well.

This spring semester, I have worked as an Accounting 101 Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader. I conduct weekly review sessions by utilizing collaborative learning techniques and study group activities. Becoming an Accounting 101 SI leader has been one my biggest accomplishments this semester. As an SI leader, I assist students struggling in financial accounting. I pass on what I’ve learned in Accounting 101 to my students. My favorite thing about my job is knowing that I have an impact on student learning. My students know that I care about their success in Accounting 101, and I know that they appreciate everything that I do for them. Whether it’s conducting an exam review session or clarifying any confusion about lecture material, my students appreciate the guidance and feedback that I provide them in Accounting 101.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
Inspiring students to excel. I want to make a positive impact on the success of my students. This is all due to my current job as an SI leader. Working as an SI leader this semester has been a very rewarding job. I hope that I can continue to support and inspire accounting students to work hard and stay motivated when it comes to achieving their goals.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The accounting faculty at Cypress College have significantly impacted my college career. Professor Ann Sheridan-Solis has been my biggest support in my time here at Cypress College. She has inspired me to work hard and stay motivated in achieving my educational goals. Professor Sheridan-Solis has taught me the importance of networking and becoming involved on campus. Professor Sheridan-Solis inspired me to become an Accounting 101 SI leader.

Professor Samreen Manjra also impacted my educational career. I got the opportunity to work closely with Professor Manjra as an SI leader. Professor Samreen Manjra motivated me to apply for scholarships this semester. Thanks to Professor Samreen Manjra, I was awarded the Sheron Huston Memorial and Cindy Blume Memorial scholarships. I’m so incredibly thankful to have met and worked with the accounting faculty at Cypress College.

Professor Kathleen Troy has continued to inspire me as well. I’ve enjoyed having her as my management instructor for two semesters now. Professor Troy has given me the best advice in achieving my educational and professional goals. She truly cares about the success of her students. I appreciate everything that she has done for me.

Professor Thomas Reynolds (TJ) II inspired me to explore creative writing. Because of Professor TJ, I’ve realized how much I enjoy writing. He has has continued to support me and has challenged me to grow in my writing capabilities. I’m thankful to have met an individual like him.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
After Cypress College, I’ll be transferring to Cal State Fullerton. I plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in accounting. My goal at CSUF is to expand my network and build more meaningful relationships with business students and faculty members. I plan to become involved in the accounting society and Beta Alpha Psi at CSUF.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My long-term goal is to become an accounting college professor. I have a lot of respect and admiration for my college professors who have always motivated me to work hard and to never give up when it comes to accomplishing my educational goals. As a result, I want to do the same for my students. My current job as an SI leader has significantly impacted my goal of becoming an accounting college professor.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the progress I’ve made these past couple of years. I’m most proud of graduating high school in two years. With English being second my language, I thought that I could never accomplish my goals. I’m also most proud of becoming an Accounting 101 SI leader. Becoming an SI leader has been the most rewarding job. Lastly, I’m most proud of the relationships that I have developed with my peers and instructors. I’m so incredibly thankful to have met such individuals here at Cypress College.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
Build your network and take advantage of the resources you have on campus. It’s important to form good relationships with your peers and instructors. I think this will open up so many opportunities to progress and succeed. Be proud of your accomplishments and hard work. There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your thinking. Lastly, step out of your comfort zone and try new things.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am so thankful to be representing the Business and CIS Division as one of the inaugural Presidential Scholars of Distinction. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities and support the Business and CIS faculty members have provided me with. I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made to the Accounting Department, Business Club, and Business and CIS Division. Attending Cypress College has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Thank you, Cypress College!

Career Technical Education: Claudia Espinoza

Claudia Espinoza was born in Santa Ana, but at the age of 2, moved to Mexico where she grew up for 14 years. At 16, her family moved back to California where she spent long days going to school, completed homework in the afternoon in a language she barely understood, then attended ESL classes until 10 p.m. Through hard work and dedication, she started to speak and write in English within a year.

After high school, Claudia earned a medical assistant certificate from Santa Ana College and continued pursuing an associate degree until realizing that she was not passionate about the field. It wasn’t until she started working as an assistant manager at a restaurant that she discovered her love for hospitality.

Claudia is graduating with associate of arts degrees in hospitality management, and food and beverage management. She is transferring to Cal State Long Beach in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and ultimately aspires to become a director of food and beverage at a full-service resort.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
My name is Claudia, I was born in Santa Ana, California. At the age of 2, my parents decided to move back to Mexico, where I grew up and lived for 14 years. At the age of 16, my parents decided it was time for us to come back to the United States in hopes of a better life and future. Moving to the United States was a major change in my life; I was in a place I did not know, and I did not speak any English. I started going to high school soon after we moved. That first year of high school was the most challenging. I remember I cried out of frustration at the end of the first day of school because I did not understand anything, but after that, I set my mind on working hard to learn English and being able to communicate and understand what was happening around me. My days were long. I was going to my regular classes in the morning, then going home after school to do homework, which was another challenge. To be able to do my homework, I had to translate all of it to Spanish on Google Translate to be able to do it, after finishing I translated it back to English so my teachers could understand and grade my assignments. After homework, I had to go to ESL classes at Santa Ana College until 10 p.m. and start all over again the next morning. Thanks to all that hard work and dedication, I started to speak and write English within a year. I graduated from NOVA Academy Early College High School in 2010.

After high school, I continued attending Santa Ana College where I achieved a medical assistant certificate. When I was close to completing the requirements for the associate degree, I changed my major to Spanish. I knew then that I liked working with people, but what I was pursuing was not my passion. I did not know exactly what I wanted to do until I started working in restaurants. I worked as assistant manager at a restaurant, and that is when I discovered my love for hospitality. After a break from school, I decided to go back to school and pursue a career in hospitality and food and beverage. Now, I am close to completing my courses to earn my associate degrees in hospitality management, and food and beverage management. I will transfer to Cal State Long Beach this upcoming fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management.

Why did you choose Cypress College?
I chose Cypress College by suggestion of my sister. One day I was talking to her about my plans of going back to school and she suggested that I look into the HRC program, so I did. After going through the curriculum, I became interested and enrolled in the program.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
I have been involved in the Hospitality, Restaurant, and Culinary Arts Program. As a student in this program, I had the opportunity to be part of the management team on opening week for the Cypress Bistro, and was part of the team that operated the front of the house of the Cypress Bistro through the fall of 2018. I was also involved in Hospitality Career Expo 2019, where students have the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience creating and executing an event.

The HRC program has played an important role unfolding my path. I have learned and received information that has helped me understand my options in the hospitality industry. Our professors are passionate about their careers, and share their passion and experience with their students. They also are committed to our education and prepare us to be successful in this industry.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am most passionate about learning new things. I also love traveling and food, which is why I majored in hospitality and food and beverage management. I believe there is always room for improvement, and we can learn new things every day. Learning new things helps me to have an open mind to new ideas, especially in this industry because there are always new trends and technology changing the way we do things. I love visiting new places and learning about their cultures and their food.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
All of my instructors in the HRC program have contributed to my academic success, especially Professor Lisa Clark, who has motivated me with her passion for hospitality and her dedication toward her students’ education and success. She is encouraging and her enthusiasm is contagious. I am extremely grateful for having her as a professor.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
My immediate plans after graduating from Cypress College are starting my education at Cal State Long Beach in the fall of 2019 and earning my bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, while working in the industry.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My long-term goals are to become a director of food and beverage at a full-service resort, travel the world, and maintain a healthy balance in my life.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being where I am right now. I am doing what I love, and I am about to graduate from Cypress College and transfer to CSULB. This would not have been possible if I had not had the support of my family and my professors.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
One bit of advice that I would give to current and future students is: “Don’t be scared of dreaming big.” If you work hard for what you want, you can achieve anything you set your mind on.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” -Pele

Counseling: Jessica Button

Jessica Button has said she’s come further than she ever thought realistic. A fun-loving girl with endless creativity, she chased many different opportunities that deferred her degree completion, but for a third time, she found herself registering for college classes at Cypress College.

Jessica is graduating with her associate of science degree for transfer in business administration and associate of science degree in marketing. She is transferring to Cal State Long Beach in the fall and is the first graduate from the leadership team of FITE (From Incarceration to Empowerment) Club, a new club that was started last fall.

“I am ecstatic to be graduating today as a role model to those who also thought they’d never get this far,” she said. “We can all graduate successfully and change our lives. We take this journey together!”

Fine Arts: Nhi Nguyen

At the age of 19, Nhi Nguyen emigrated from Vietnam to the United States with her mother. In a completely new environment and having to cope in an unfamiliar language, Nhi initially intended to earn a degree in a health science field because she thought she would have a higher chance of finding a stable job; however, her first art professor helped her believe in her skills and abilities, and inspired her to pursue art instead.

Nhi is graduating with an associate of art degree for transfer in studio art. She is transferring to Cal State Fullerton to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic and interactive design. She also hopes to pursue a master’s degree and dreams of becoming a successful graphic designer.

“No matter what language an artist speaks, I can understand what he is trying to represent and express through his art piece,” she said. “So, art seems to have a power of speaking in a universal language, which is why I’ve been interested in art.”

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
My name is Nhi Nguyen. I grew up in Vietnam. When I was 19 years old, my mother and I moved to the United States. I am interested in designing, crafting, and drawing. My hobbies are singing and swimming.
I have been attending Cypress College since fall 2016. I became part of the EOPS program in fall 2017 and started to work in the Career Planning Center on campus in fall 2018. As I am not a native English speaker, English is a significant challenge for me. Moreover, because of my Vietnamese accent, I also feel self-conscious and hesitant when communicating in English. However, with all the help and enthusiasm of my professors, my coworkers, and my friends at Cypress, my English has improved a lot, and I feel more confident when using English.

This is my third year at Cypress. I am working on my associate degree for transfer in studio art and will be graduating this spring. Next fall, I am transferring to California State University, Fullerton, to earn my bachelor’s degree.

Why did you choose Cypress College?
As I am looking forward to transfer to university to earn my bachelor’s degree, I chose to attend a local community college. Fortunately, I decided to go to Cypress College, which is one of best decisions I have ever made.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
Being an EOPS student, I have received many supports from the program such as counseling and book awards. In addition, while I am one of the student workers in the Career Planning Center on campus, I have not only earned experience and am involved in campus events, but also had opportunities to help other students and introduce them to the beneficial career counseling services offered at the center.
Even though I am interested in art, I started my first semester as a health science student, since it seemed there would be a higher chance to get a stable job with a health science degree. However, my first art professor at Cypress really inspired me. He not only taught valuable knowledge and assigned interesting projects, but also helped me believe in my art skills and ability. Hence, I chose art with a concentration in graphic design as my major.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am passionate about art. The first reason why I love art is that there is no right or wrong answer, so I can express myself, my feelings, and become more creative. There are meanings that can be interpreted from art elements and principles, which are “formulas” I use to tell the stories through my paintings, drawings, and designs. I also use these “formulas” to “read” and understand the story, feeling, and context of an artwork. Then, no matter what language an artist speaks, I can understand what he is trying to represent and express through his art piece. So art seems to have a power of speaking in a universal language, which is why I’ve been interested in art.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
I really appreciate the time I have experienced at Cypress College and I am thankful to all my passionate, incredible, and amazing professors and counselors. I would like to say thank you to my art and media art design professors: Edward Giardina, Carleton Christy, Janet Owen Driggs, Katalin Angelov, Daniel Gross, Rema Ghuloum, my EOPS counselor Alan Reza, and my supervisors Deann Burch, Belinda Allan, and Zola Aponte.

  1. Edward Giardina: my first art professor at Cypress College. I was inspired from his first lectures about the elements of art. He is a great professor who not only helped me with my art projects and letters of recommendation, but also gave me advice about what major I should pursue and which university I should transfer to.
  2. Carleton Christy: my drawing professor. I enjoyed his class a lot. He is hilarious, so I never felt stressed in his class or while talking with him. He encouraged me to do my best and allowed me to explore and use different art techniques. He taught me many new skills. He has been always willing to help me. Since I am not a native English speaker, he even helped me look up words in the dictionary when I was having trouble with English.
  3. Janet Owen Driggs: my art history professor. I learned a lot from her lectures and she made me love art history. One of the amazing things she taught me was to “read” an image.
  4. Katalin Angelov: my first digital art professor. Besides her interesting lectures, she has everything for a great professor: kindness, warmth, and understanding.
  5. Daniel Gross: my graphic design professor. He also works as a graphic designer, so while working on his class assignments, I earned experience and got advice that is valuable and important for my profession.
  6. Rema Ghuloum: my color theory professor. She has a great understanding about colors, so I learned, explored, and worked on many different projects that applied the variety of color theories, which are so amazing and valuable to my major.
  7. Alan Reza: my EOPS counselor for two years. Besides discussing my academic plan, he also talked about my artworks and gave me some interesting project ideas.
  8. Deann Burch, Belinda Allan, and Zola Aponte: my supervisors in the Career Planning Center. I always feel their kindness toward me as well as other staff. I can see their enthusiasm while instructing students and their passion for their work and the center.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
After graduating from Cypress College, I will be transferring to California State University, Fullerton, and working on my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic and interactive design. Meanwhile, I plan to work on campus in order to improve my English communication skills as well as to help other students. I will also look for a job that is related to my major, so I can earn more work experience.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My biggest dream is to become a successful graphic designer. I am interested in working on logos, brand identities, layouts, and poster designs for movies, magazines, product advertisements, social issues, etc. In addition, I like creating motion graphics that provide the audience with information about a company, topic, or issue. Besides taking digital design courses, I also take other classes such as drawing, color theory, and animation to gain more knowledge and improve my art skills, as well as to obtain an ability to work with other types of art such as digital illustration and animation. The interactive design program at California State University, Fullerton, is another branch of design that I also want to pursue. Then, after getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts, I also plan to earn a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts.

What are you most proud of?
It has been my honor to be on the Cypress College President’s Honor Roll with a GPA of 4.0. Furthermore, I am the 2019 Presidential Scholar of Distinction for the Fine Arts Division. I won the 2019 Sheron Huston Memorial Scholarship and the 2019 Freddie Czerniel Transfer Scholarship that was offered by the Cypress College Fine Arts Division. In addition, I am the winner of the 2019 Cypress College Holiday Card Contest. My product advertisement project that includes three posters and a motion graphic is displayed at the Students’ Show 2019 in the Cypress College Art Gallery. Also, my still life drawing and animal digital illustration were selected for the Student Exhibition in May 2018, and my ink drawing was chosen for display at the Student Exhibition in May 2017.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
I would like to say do your best, so you will have no regrets about anything. Also, think about your interests, strengths, and skills while choosing the major and career path that you would like to pursue. If you like and are passionate about something, you absolutely can do well at it, so believe in yourself and your abilities. Then, do not struggle with yourself because there are tons of service on campus such as counseling, financial aid, the health center, open computer lab, and tutoring that are really helpful and can help you find your solution.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am really happy that I will be graduating. I also appreciate my time at Cypress College. I have learned valuable information from various subjects and numerous practical skills. I am really thankful for the help and support from the campus services as well as the inspiration and encouragement from all my Cypress College professors.

Health Science: Evelyn Hernandez

A first-generation college student and single parent when she first started on her educational journey at Cypress College, Evelyn Hernandez said the college has been her home away from home since day one. She is a proud member of EOPS, a program she learned of by happenstance.

“I recall accidentally walking into some random office hoping they’d be able to help me, and it was the best mistake I ever made,” she said.

Evelyn is graduating with an associate of science degree in radiologic technology. After earning her American Registry of Radiologic Technologists credential, she hopes to work in computed tomography (CT) and possibly cross-train in a catheterization lab. She also hopes to attend Cal State Northridge in the future.

“I want to continue growing and set an example for my kids,” she said. “I want them to be proud of the person I worked so hard to become. I want them to know anything is possible with hard work and a little effort.”

#CYPresidential

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I’m currently married with two wonderful little girls, and I’ve lived in Orange County for most of my life.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Choosing Cypress is the best decision I’ve ever made. I love the campus, the atmosphere, the diversity. From day one I felt it was my second home away from home. I had made an attempt to start college at a different campus before, and it was just the complete opposite. Cypress and its faculty have always felt welcoming when I felt the most insecure. I was a first-generation college student, a single parent, didn’t know anything about the application process or even where to go. I just remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed and vulnerable. I recall accidentally walking into some random office hoping they’d be able to help me and it was the best mistake I ever made. Thank you, EOPS; without you I wouldn’t be standing here with my peers!

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I was a proud member of EOPS for two years. The staff was amazing—you could really tell how invested everyone in the program was with the students. They helped me stay on track and push myself; to be honest our success is just a reflection of their hard work at hand. Thanks, Alan Reza!

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Definitely helping others. Someday, I want to make the same impact my professors and program director had on me, with others. I want to pass on my knowledge with that same enthusiasm they carry; they have a gift, and I’m thankful for that. Who knows, maybe becoming a Cypress College professor in the future could be next on my checklist.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Many have helped me get where I am today. My family, friends, and staff, but I’d really like to thank Ms. Lynn Mitts. I’ve always sold myself short, but she’s always made me feel like I could accomplish anything when I didn’t even believe in myself. I’d also like to thank Dr. Michael Frianeza; his enthusiasm is the reason I sealed the deal and decided to become a radiologic technologist on day one. Mr. Barry Siegel, who has selflessly poured his heart and soul aiding us all throughout the program. Ms. Phan Pak and Mr. Gary Binoya, for helping us swim not sink, your patience and support was just what we needed. Thank you all for always going above and beyond!

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

After completing my studies I hope to continue to grow in my facility. Computer Tomography (CT) is definitely my next goal.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I definitely need to start working on my bachelor’s, sooner rather than later. I want to continue growing and set an example for my kids. I want them to be proud of the person I worked so hard to become! I want them to know anything is possible with hard work and a little effort.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my mom: rough life, single parent of three, always working hard to make ends meet. I’ve never told her, but she’s MY role model. Thanks for doing the best that YOU could for us. We love you, even if you don’t hear us say it often enough.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

No one is born a professional, a little time and perseverance goes along way. Be patient, work hard, and you’ll be a recipe for success. Most important of all, always help those around you; someday they’ll be able to give you a hand when you most need it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I want to thank all the people that have been on this journey with me, especially my friends and family. It’s been a hell of a ride and it’s finally coming to an end. Thank you for ALL your support, you guys were my rock!

I also want to thank my Clinical Instructor and the rest of the staff in my clinical site. Thank you for taking the time to teach me everything you know; I’m eternally grateful. I’m sure I was a headache sometimes, but thank you for not giving up on me. I hope to continue to grow and to make you all proud. Remember, I’m only as good as the sum of all your best parts, thank you!

Kinesiology: Jane Woodward

Jane Woodward was a four-sport standout in high school, participating in varsity women’s volleyball, basketball, track, and tennis at Woodrow Wilson High School in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. After high school, Jane moved to Orange County on her own to attend Cypress College and play on the college’s volleyball and beach volleyball teams. She finished her career at Cypress with 321 career kills and 122 blocks, earning a 2018 all-Orange Empire Conference First Team selection and earning a spot on the 2018 All-State Tournament Team.

Jane is graduating with an associate of science degree in kinesiology. She is transferring to Cal Poly Pomona on a volleyball scholarship and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. She aspires to become a physical therapist and high school volleyball coach.

“I am most passionate about being the best version of myself that I can be,” she said. “Coming from a troubled background, losing my mother at a young age, I have an internal drive to succeed and make the most out of my life.”

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and attended Woodrow Wilson High School there. I moved down to Southern California after high school by myself in order to start a life here and attend Cypress College, as well as play volleyball and beach volleyball for the school. I spend my time balancing school, collegiate athletics, and work at Angel Stadium.

Why did you choose Cypress College?
I chose Cypress College because of the exceptional academic opportunities that the school has for kinesiology students, as well as the success of the volleyball team in previous years and a desire to join the team and work with the coaching staff here.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
I have been involved in two sports here at the school: volleyball and beach volleyball. It took me two years to get my degree in kinesiology here at Cypress, so my semester course loads were heavy, and I spent countless hours in the LRC, but it was all worth it.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am most passionate about being the best version of myself that I can be. Coming from a troubled background, losing my mother at a young age, I have an internal drive to succeed and make the most out of my life. I also have a strong passion for athletics and all kinds of sports, as I feel the most at home in a sports-like atmosphere.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
The faculty here at Cypress that have helped me substantially along the way are of course my coaches: Nancy Welliver, Nicky Cannon, and Chris Gomez. I also would like to acknowledge Jeff Cutkomp for his unwavering support and class schedule guidance, and Dana Bedard for all of his help.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
I plan on attending Cal Poly Pomona to study exercise physiology and earn a bachelor’s degree. Once I complete my time there, I want to one day work as a physical therapist and high school volleyball coach.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My long-term goals are to one day be a physical therapist, ideally for a professional sports team, as well as coach women’s volleyball. I would love to travel the world, live a healthy lifestyle, and most importantly: be happy.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how I spent my time here at Cypress, earning my degree in two years with a solid GPA while trying to figure out how life goes away from home, on my own, and at the same time playing two collegiate sports and working in order to support myself.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
If I were to give advice to current and future Cypress students, I would just do my best to inspire them to work their hardest and work to be the best versions of themselves, always. Particularly when things get tough and it feels like there is no point or no direction to your life, there undoubtedly is, but you just have to work hard in order to find it.

Language Arts: Jene Viray

Born in the Philippines and raised in the United Arab Emirates, Jene Viray is an international student at Cypress College who is graduating with her associate of arts degree in communication studies. She hopes to transfer to Cal State Long Beach in fall 2020, and until then, will continue working in the college’s International Students Program to gain practical work experience.

In addition to working part-time in the International Students Program office, Jene was cast and has performed in the college’s dance productions, and was a member of the Cypress College Forensics Team. She aspires to earn a master’s degree in spee