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.

#CYPossible: Karina Vanessa Lopez, Business Administration

Karina recently attended Cypress College and majored in Business Administration, which she continues to study at Cal State Fullerton in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree. She wants to work as a Certified Public Accountant and eventually become a partner in an accounting firm. Although she’s finished her classes at Cypress, she is on campus weekly to help other students through her job in the Business and CIS Division. She knows that support can go a long way for students, and she’s glad to now be in the role to offer help, as others have helped her on her academic journey.



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 small town of Mammoth Lakes in Northern California. While growing up, I participated in all kinds of sports and assumed leadership roles in soccer and basketball as team captain. I am a first-generation college student, and I’ve always aspired to achieve all my goals that I set my mind to. I enjoy outdoor recreation activities, especially hiking and taking my dog on my favorite trails.  I love spending time with family, especially because my time with them has been so limited ever since I moved away to pursue higher education.

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

Cypress College was recommended to me by one of my cousins who had taken classes here in the past. After doing my research and finding out that it was one of the best community colleges in California, I decided to attend Cypress without even visiting the campus. I knew I wanted to continue my education after high school; however, I was not even sure what I wanted to major in. Economically, attending Cypress was an excellent choice.

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 involved in a few organizations on campus such as the Honors Program, EOPS, and Puente. These programs assisted me in the process of narrowing down my interest into choosing a major. The Puente Program in particular truly led me into meeting incredible individuals. Dr. Therese Mosqueda Ponce, with her well-established program, allowed me to take full advantage of the resources available to me. Stephanie Teer became my Puente Mentor, which changed my life in a way I could never have imagined.

Throughout the entire year in Puente, she and I worked on determining where I saw myself 10 years. We focused on building that picture and envisioned a plan on achieving my goals. I soon began working with her on campus in the development of the Dual Enrollment Program, which eventually led to working within the Business and CIS Division.

Having the opportunity to be a student and staff member allowed me to view both academic and professional perspectives. As a student I always felt supported by professors and staff members; however, being a staff member allowed me to see the drive and determination my co-workers had in the interest of the students we serve. They genuinely care about the success of the students; to them students are not just another number.

Henry Hua, Dean of Business and CIS, also made a huge impact in my life during my time at Cypress College. He has always challenged me to grow within the workplace and inspired me to be a better individual every day. He genuinely made me realize how much of a social impact one can truly make. I am extremely thankful to have met these individuals throughout my journey at Cypress College.

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 Cypress College, I transferred to California State University, Fullerton. I am currently in my second semester there pursing a B.A. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. Because of the great experience I received at Cypress College from being involved, I joined the Latino Business and Student Association and Accounting Society. The opportunities that I was given at Cypress College allowed me to implement my leadership skills as the Vice President of the Institute of Internal Auditors for the Accounting Society this semester. This summer I was accepted for an internship at Deloitte.

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

My long-term goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant and eventually become a partner for an accounting firm.  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 passionate about? Why?

My family. They have always been very important to me and I truly value every single one of them. There are always going to be setbacks, but being passionate about the value and pride I have for them is immeasurable. Whenever there are challenges that I face, they always help me remind myself of the motives behind all my efforts.

What are you most proud of?

Overcoming adversity. I could have easily stayed in my hometown and gone to community college there, but leaving and allowing myself to grow as an individual definitely contributed to who I am. I have taken risks and made sacrifices to pursue my dreams to become a Certified Public Accountant. Along the way I have learned lessons that will continue to help me further my education. I am proud of taking that first step in leaving my hometown.

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

I would not change a thing. I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. As my mom always said to me growing up, “Ni antes ni despues, todo llega cuando tiene que llegar,” meaning not sooner nor later, everything comes when it is supposed to. Patience is key.

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

Get involved and utilize all your resources. This will open so many doors for you. Always remember to have a growth mindset because it will truly go a long way. There really is no rush in finishing up school or having to compete a task in a certain time frame. Take everything at your own pace and cherish the moment. Remember to take risks because if you don’t, you never know what could have been. Go for it because no matter how it ends, it was a valuable experience.

Rick Richardson, Operations Manager at Marriott International

Completing coursework calls for celebration, and we are proud to celebrate with Cypress College’s newest degree- and certificate-holders. By achieving these education goals, graduates and certificate-earners are equipped to continue on their college path or find strong footholds in the career fields they’ve chosen. We’ve taken the journey with these outstanding students, and know that when they look to the horizon, they see what is #CYPossible.

Rick made a complete career about-face, after an accident left him unable to continue coaching tennis. He was encouraged to go into Hotel Management, and discovered he had a knack for the industry. A transfer to Cal Poly, enrollment in the Marriott International’s Voyage Development Program, and several steps up in his career, Rick now oversees housekeeping and engineering at Courtyard Anaheim Buena Park and has dreams for the future as well as appreciation for his past at Cypress College.

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

I was raised in the Midwest. As a junior I played competitive tennis and as a young adult I taught professional tennis. I had my own tennis academy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and was the head coach for the United States’ Tennis Association boys’ and girls’ 12’s National team, and won the National Clay Court Championship.

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

In 2003, I suffered a freak and rare accident from a mere slip and fall. I had complete tears of both quadriceps, ruptured the right patella and complete rupture of the bottom three vertebrae (3, 4, and 5). After five surgeries and 7 years of extensive physical therapy, I was taught to walk again.

As part of the rehabilitation process, they try to find a way to integrate the patient back into society. Because I would never be able to play tennis again, it was suggested by a counselor that perhaps I try working in a hotel. Cypress [was one of only several junior colleges that] offered a hotel management program. On the day I enrolled, Lisa Clark happened to be visiting my counselor. The counselor introduced me to Lisa; she was so kind and welcoming and even though the classes were closed, she told me to apply and she would ensure I got in.

So that is where it began. Lisa taught me the essentials of becoming a hospitality professional. I remember her saying, “Rick, it is not what we do; it is who we are.”


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 Hospitality and Culinary Club Secretary and graduated from Cypress with a 4.0 in my discipline; having made the Dean’s list every semester except two, for which I made the President’s Honor Roll. In 2012 I received the Cypress College Scholarship Award from the Anaheim Orange County Hotel & Lodging Association.

As far as faculty, Lisa Clark, Chef Jeremy, Jeanette Jones, Chef Stephanie, Chef Tracy, and Jane Jepson—each of these played intricate roles in my professional development and helped shape who I would become as a hotel manager. All of whom I still keep in contact with and continue to seek mentorship and guidance.

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

From Cypress I went to the Collins College at Cal Poly. Graduating within four years, I was at the top of my class and was admitted into Marriott International’s Voyage Development Program. I was placed as an Operations Voyager at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert. I was a third-generation Voyager and the program allots 12-18 months to complete. I became the first Voyager to ever complete the program in less than one year. This accomplishment, along with a few other highlights enabled me to be promoted after a year to Assistant Front Desk Manager. After two and a half years, I moved back to LA/Anaheim and took a position as Manager on Duty at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort. After one and a half years there, I came to the Courtyard Anaheim Buena Park where I currently am the Operations Manager over housekeeping and engineering.


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

My long-term goal is to become a General Manager. It has always been my dream from the beginning to own and operate my own bed and breakfast hotel.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Creating unforgettable guest experiences. The feeling I get when I believe I have formulated an intimate connection with a guest and moved them in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

What are you most proud of?

In our industry, everything moves so quickly and you come across so many people; some nice, some not as nice. All these people ultimately have an effect on you, and many will be factors in your success and movement upwards. I am most proud that through it all, I believe I have never changed who I am or how people see me: a man of high character, principle, and integrity.

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

I have been very fortunate and truly blessed, accomplishing a good amount in a short span. I would not do anything different, but if I was much younger, I would take more chances.

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

Following my response to question eight—be more courageous and take chances. When you are younger, you do not have the ties that bind you, so to speak. Travel; take positions in other cities, states, even countries. Your path upward can move more swiftly if you are willing to move around. Be realistic, pragmatic because with anything you have to work and put in the time.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

In addition, widen your discipline. In the new world, the expectations are that the managers will be able to lead more than one department at a time.

Katy Straughn, Aviation and Travel Careers

Completing coursework calls for celebration, and we are proud to celebrate with Cypress College’s newest degree- and certificate-holders. By achieving these education goals, graduates and certificate-earners are equipped to continue on their college path or find strong footholds in the career fields they’ve chosen. We’ve taken the journey with these outstanding students, and know that when they look to the horizon, they see what is #CYPossible.

Katy is a familiar face on campus. She not only studied for her A.S. in Travel and Tourism with an Advanced Flight Attendant Certificate at Cypress, but she is also an adjunct professor here at the college. Away from Cypress, she works full time as a flight attendant with United Airlines since 2012.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I was born in Long Beach, but I grew up In Cypress. I went to Cypress High School and Cypress College. I have a lot of interests and am always open to try new things. Sports are a big part of my life. Soccer has always been my passion; I have played my entire life. You can also find me watching Sunday football; I am a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. I love the outdoors, going on hikes, and being active. I am really into fitness and working out. I love going to Lake Havasu—that’s home away from home for me. When I am not working either of the two jobs I currently have, you can find me doing one of those activities.

Why did you choose to attend Cypress College and how did being a student here help you find your first position after completion?
I chose to come to Cypress College because of their Aviation program; being close to my house was also a bonus. I knew before I graduated high school that being a flight attendant was what I wanted to do. I owe everything I have accomplished to this day, to Cypress College Aviation & Travel Careers Program. I am so thankful to have Kathleen Reiland and Kathy March on my team. They have supported me through every decision I have made since I started the program at 17 years old. I participated in all the networking activities that they set up for us students and took advantage of all the volunteer activities as well. My love for travel has grown tremendously through the program and allowed me to confirm that being a flight attendant was what I wanted to do. Now that I am an adjunct professor at Cypress College, I am proud to say that I work alongside some pretty amazing people who share the same passion for travel as I do.

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 I graduated at Cypress, I interviewed with multiple different airlines, landing a job with Continental in 2012. They were going through the start of their merger with United Airlines, which is not finalized. A couple of years later, I decided to go back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree and chose to attend Cal State Los Angeles because of their Aviation program as well. I finished in exactly two years, graduating May of 2017.

My degree in aviation administration, with a minor in operations and supply chain management, has opened the door to many opportunities within the industry that I can achieve. I took a position as an adjunct professor at Cypress College, teaching courses within the Flight Attendant Certificate. I believe in this program, what it stands for, and what the staff does for their students to help them achieve their goals and be successful in the industry.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
I don’t see myself ever leaving the aviation industry. If I were to change directions I would move into something involving accident investigations with the National Travel Safety Board.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
Travel. I am someone who has been around the world, and I can’t express how important it is to learn new cultures and embrace all the beauty we have in this world. The world is such a small place and it will make you richer within. Knowledge is power and I believe traveling and experiencing new things and places is a great way to learn and appreciate what we ourselves have.

What are you most proud of?
I am proud of myself for making the decision to go back to finish school. I know a lot of people are not fortunate enough to make that happen, but I have a great support system of family and friends and they helped me to make that possible. I am proud that I set a goal and I accomplished it.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I needed all the highs and lows that I went through to bring me right where I am today in life. I couldn’t be happier and prouder of how my life plan fell and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me. This is just the beginning.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
Patience. Hard work always pays off. Keep going. Everyone’s journey is going to be different and you should never compare yourself to someone else or how their journey is panning out or even how we as society think young adults should live their lives these days. Focus on you; keep true to yourself.

Kourosh Shirazi, Automotive Technology

Kourosh (who also goes by Cyrus) made a 180-degree turn in his career path when he decided to pursue his love of working on cars and study automotive technology. Cypress offered a state-of-the-art facility where he could gain hands-on experience; the T-TEN program here enabled him to access a career. Now he’s working at Lexus Santa Monica, happy that he changed gears after almost a decade of going off course.

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 County; however my family immigrated to the United States. We came from the third world as a family of famers. My father was a large advocate of doing things yourself. He was constantly purchasing DIY books and we would work together doing various projects around the house and work. From a young age, my parents instilled the lesson that to attain any means of success equates to hard work. It has been an arduous journey ever since. I have always held a passion for the automotive industry, but due to personal circumstances, I’ve had to put my ambitions on hold in means of duty to the family. After 10 years, I have changed gears and started pursuing a career that always held my interests.

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

I came across Cypress College through a referral from a close friend back in 2008. I recall Luis showing me around and being impressed at how well equipped the shop was. When I decided to go back to school, Cypress College was one of the first places in mind. I feel lucky to have returned at a time T-TEN is available. Being a part of this program helped me find employment.

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?

The biggest influences lie upon Mike Klyde and Paul Kelley. The support and dedication that these two invest into T-TEN and the students is amazing. They helped guide me at every step of the way.

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

My goal was to find a dealership where the environment was best suited to the type of person I am. Going through the T-TEN program, Mike Klyde and Paul Kelley were able to ascertain my skill set and work ethic and match that to a dealership of their recommendation. I placed my faith upon their assessment and now find myself at Lexus Santa Monica, working with one of the best dealerships in the area.

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

My long-term goal is to establish myself within the industry. It would be nice to one day leave the dealership, but become a part of Lexus corporate.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I find myself very passionate towards the automotive industry as a whole. Working in this industry has been rewarding and satisfying.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud to be a part of T-TEN. There are others in my cohort that are exceptional technicians and show strengths in areas where I know I am weak. The camaraderie shared as we journeyed through while supporting one another is a memory I hold dear.

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

I would have to say nothing. The program and support provided by Mike Klyde and Paul Kelley is exceptional. They are veterans in preparing individuals with the determination to succeed.

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

Work hard and maintain a positive attitude. These past two years have been a constant six days of work with 4-hour nights. If you wish to achieve any means of success in life, you must work hard. There are no easy shortcuts or lucky breaks.

 

Mary Eng, Kinesiology & Radiologic Technology


Mary comes from a large family that holds education in high regard. She passed the California High School Proficiency exam at age 14 and was ready to start on her college journey and join her two older sisters who were enrolled at Cypress College. Mary gravitated toward radiologic technology; she’d visited X-ray technicians as a child when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, and wanted to help others. The diagnosis also led her to try out swimming, which opened up a lifelong love of the sport and brought her to a spot on the Cypress College swim team.

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

I am the fourth of 10 children, all born and raised here in Orange County. I was homeschooled until age 14 when I took the California High School Proficiency Exam and enrolled at Cypress College. Studying hard and doing well in school has always been very important in my family. My parents wanted my siblings and me to be able to graduate from the homeschool with enough skills to meet the real world and be successful. The skills I gained from being homeschooled, such as learning on your own and self-motivating, have helped me to be successful at Cypress College.

When I was 11 years old I learned that I had scoliosis. Because of that, I had my first introduction to radiology through regular visits to get X-rays. Having scoliosis also got me into swimming. Soon after learning I had scoliosis, I joined a club swim team. All of these experiences helped lead me to Cypress College.

If I’m not busy working or studying, I enjoy playing the flute, ringing handbells in our family musical group, going thrift-store shopping, or doing one of my many artistic hobbies such as calligraphy, card-making, or painting.

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

I chose to attend Cypress College for several reasons. One reason was that my two older sisters were also attending Cypress College at the time and I enjoy doing things with my sisters. Another motivation for me was the opportunity to join the Cypress College swim team. I had enjoyed swimming on a club team for a few years and when I saw how welcoming the Cypress college swim team was I knew I wanted to be part of the team. In addition, Cypress College was an excellent economical choice for my family and me. I knew that by attending Cypress College I would be getting a good education without a large student debt. Furthermore, the radiologic technology program at Cypress College is one of the highest regarded in the area as well as having the most straightforward admission process into the program. At the time I applied for the program, it was necessary to have A’s in the prerequisite courses, but there was no waiting list. I knew that if I wanted to be radiologic technologist I needed to be at Cypress College.

The reputation of Cypress College and the quality of the training I received in the Radiologic Technology program has enabled me to be in my current job. Even though I have less than one year of experience in the field, I now work as the only X-ray tech of a fairly busy out-patient center. Without the strong foundations in positioning and patient care I received at Cypress College, I do not think I would have been qualified for or given this job.

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?

Having started College so young, I had plenty of time to do other things at Cypress College besides pursuing my goal of becoming a radiologic technologist. I was a part of the Cypress College swim team for three years. This was very good for me in several ways. Although it was a lot of work to attend daily practices and gym sessions while being a full-time student and keeping up my 4.0 GPA, I believe this helped prepare me for the rigors of the radiologic technology program. Also, because the radiologic technology program is so highly regarded, the prerequisite classes were often impacted, making it difficult for students to take them. I avoided this problem because I received priority registration as a student athlete.

The first degree I earned from Cypress College was in Physical Education. Many of the classes I took for the degree overlapped with those I needed for general education and I enjoyed taking the classes. Physical education was not something I considered a career in but I liked learning about it since I had not encountered it in the homeschool. Also, since I was on the swim team, much of the information was very applicable to me. Because of my interest in physical education, I helped start a kinesiology club with a small group of other students, which included one of my younger sisters.

After completing my years of eligibility with the Cypress College swim team and graduating with high honors in Physical Education, I was 17 — old enough to apply for the Radiologic Technology program. I learned so much about life and myself through my classmates, my teachers, and my experiences in the program.

There are so many faculty and staff who have been instrumental in helping me be a successful graduate of Cypress College

• Coaches Larry, Denise, Pavielle, and Rick who motivated me to push myself and made the Cypress College swim team such a great team to be a part of. I had so much fun being part of the team and have so many wonderful memories. I wasn’t the best swimmer but they were always encouraging me and I learned a lot from my experiences on the team.

• My instructors in the Radiologic Technology program who prepared me so well to be in the workforce and continue to be there for me to ask questions:

o Laura Grieco, the former clinical coordinator for the Radiologic Technology program. I took my first prerequisite class, medical terminology, with her and learned so much. She encouraged me to study hard because I would need good study skills to survive in the Radiologic Technology program. She got to know my whole family and was very helpful when I was preparing for my journey toward radiologic technology.

o Lynn Mitts, the program director. She is such a sweet person and works so hard to make sure all students of the program have the chance to be the most successful version of themselves. She made an effort to listen to students and to accommodate their needs so they could achieve.

o Dr. Michael Frianeza, who teaches many of the classes. He made the effort to communicate well with his students and was very understanding. He was always willing to say a good word about someone or write letters of recommendation.

o Barry Siegel, the clinical coordinator. He made himself readily available if I needed help or advice. His tireless efforts to make sure I thoroughly understood all the necessary clinical knowledge and radiographic positioning have served me well now that I am working on my own.

• Katherine Fehr, my anatomy professor,encouraged me to reach higher and helped me create my first resume. I truly enjoyed her anatomy class and the excellence she demanded in her class greatly benefited me once I started the Radiologic Technology program.

• Becky Rojas from Associated Students and Coach Margaret Mohr offered wisdom and guidance when I was helping to get the kinesiology club started. Although my time with the club was very short, I learned a lot about how to organize and administrate something.

Last but not least, I am so grateful to everyone who donates to and administrates the Cypress College Scholarship Foundation. I received several scholarships which assisted me to become what I am today. The annual scholarship ceremonies were one of the highlights of my time at Cypress College for both me and my family.

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

Soon after graduating from Cypress College, I started my first job working for RadNet as a per-diem radiologic technologist. I was also given the opportunity to begin working on an additional certification in bone densitometry. Five months later, I began working full-time and training in computed tomography. Now, I am continuing to work full-time and am studying to pass the registries for computed tomography and bone densitometry.

It’s been a bit of an adjustment from being a student for so long to having a regular job and money to spend. I’ve also realized how much more responsibility I have in my work and how much it matters that I am a good radiologic technologist. Nevertheless, I am enjoying this new phase of life and am excited to see what happens next.


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

Once I complete my additional certifications in CT and DEXA, I hope to use my skills to help others by going on medical missions. By going on medical missions, I would experience the fun of traveling while using my skills to show love to those less fortunate than I. No matter where I end up working or traveling to, I hope to be the best technologist I can and to constantly be learning.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I want to use the knowledge, wisdom, and love that I have been given to bless the lives of others. I have been blessed with so much for a reason — to bring the good news of love to those around the world.

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

Don’t think you have to do everything alone. Ask questions and let people help you. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that you are reaching too high. No one is too young or old to achieve great things.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

My family has been an unwavering source of support and encouragement. I could not have made it to where I am now without them.

I want to thank all my classmates from the Radiologic Technology program class of 2017. I made some great friends, and making it through the program was so much easier with all

Juan Santos, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Despite working full-time while studying, Juan completed his certificate in air conditioning and refrigeration in two years. Before he was even finished, he was fielding job offers. The former secretary for ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) on campus has been working in the field for a year.

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

I grew up in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, until I was 10 years old. My parents immigrated to the United States, and I have resided in Orange ever since. I enjoy spending time with my family and staying physically active.

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

A friend of mine who was involved with Cypress College mentioned how great their HVAC program was. I decided to give it a try. The teachers were so helpful that I was able to find a job right before finishing the course.


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?

During my time in Cypress, I was the secretary for ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and, Air Conditioning Engineers) Club. Thanks to Mr. Hock and Mr. Urquidi, who were the most helpful during the completion of the program. They pushed me hard and took the time to explain the material when it was difficult.

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 completing the HVAC program, I was able to land a job in refrigeration; I have been working for Accutherm Refrigeration for a year now.


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

As of now, I would like to keep learning new skills in refrigeration filling; in the future, I would like to open my own business.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

My biggest passion is my family. They push me to be the best that I can be. They always support me, no matter how rough our situation is.

What are you most proud of?

I am the most proud of finishing the HVAC program in two years. I was working full time and going to school full time. I pushed myself to finish the program. Now, I am working in the field, and seeing the rewards of hard work feels satisfying.

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

I feel that I would not do things differently. The situations that I have been through have shaped the way I am, and I am satisfied with the outcome.

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

The best advice I can give other students is to not give up and keep working toward your dream.

Zachary Lynch, Automotive Collision Repair

Zach grew up loving anything with an engine, and says Cypress College’s well-known Auto Collision Repair program drew him in because having a certificate from the school might lead to employment opportunities. Sure enough, he received several job offers from local body shops throughout Orange County, even before finishing his courses. He’s currently at Service King as a full technician, where he enjoys working on cars.

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

I grew up in Lake Arrowhead where I always had a strong interest in cars, trains, boats, and pretty much anything with an engine. After taking welding classes in high school, I became a Los Angeles certified welder. This facilitated my interest in car repair and design, as my welding skills played a significant role in my confidence in my ability to work on cars. My first job in high school was assisting at a mechanic shop, and a couple of years later I attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for car design classes.

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

I chose to attend Cypress College because of its well-known automobile repair program, which I knew would be most useful in attaining my future goals with car design and repair. This turned out to be true, as I have since had many job opportunities in body shops throughout Orange County, though I have only worked at three different companies over the last four years.


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 enrolled in the Automotive Collision Repair program for three years, where I was primarily supported and taught by Larry Ramos and Dan Snook, who have been instrumental in my development as a successful car repairman.

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

While attaining my certificate, I started working at Mercedes-Benz, Newport Beach, as a technician’s assistant in the body shop. I am currently working at Service King as a full technician, where I greatly enjoy working on cars.
What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

To have my own automotive company, which builds both complete vehicles and products for existing vehicles.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I enjoy designing and working on cars in an innovative way, as well as developing all-new automobile packages and modifications that will enhance overall car performance and design.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of how far I have come in my path to car design in spite of a few obstacles and detours I took along the way, which helped me gain experience and learn what I truly wanted to do in life.

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

Nothing!

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

To stay with the program and complete it. Dream big and chase your dreams.

Shamaniece Gray, Culinary Arts

Cypress College was close to Shamaniece’s home, which is why she chose it, but then it became close to her heart. The culinary arts major calls the college her second home, and says it changed her life. In addition to taking a full courseload, she got involved with the work-study program; now, she volunteers for the school, helping other Hotel, Restaurant, and Culinary students. She’s currently working as an intern at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Beach.

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

My name is Shamaniece but I prefer Niecey. I’ve lived in California for the majority of my life. I love to eat and cook different types of cuisines. If I could choose, it would be Mexican and Italian fusion.

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

Honestly, I chose Cypress College because it was close to my house but I had no idea how the HRC program would change my life. Starting off in the program, I was very quiet and timid. This program forced me to have a voice and to develop a tough skin. In a kitchen, whispering will not get you anywhere. Your teammates need to be able to hear you over all of the chaos and the craziness in the kitchen. Volunteering and being a kitchen assistant helped me as well. Doing this, I learned how to work with different machines, work catering events, mise en place for different recipes, etc. All of this helped me get my first job right out of culinary school.

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 involved in the work-study program here at Cypress College. I got the opportunity to be Chef Tracey’s Kitchen Assistant. Although I was a Kitchen Assistant, I also got to assist all the Chefs, such as Chef Jeremy, Chef Amanda, and Chef Stephanie. All of these teachers played a significant role in my life. They taught me how to speak up, to have a voice in the kitchen, and to never give up on myself. They were also upfront with me even when I didn’t want to hear it. The teachers actually care about where you end up in the future and are willing to help you network and to build connections to get there. Even the counselors like Renee Ssensalo and Iris Zelaya are there no matter what, whether it’s for school or just to talk.

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 finishing the HRC program I still volunteered at the Anaheim Campus. It is a second home for me, filled with people who actually have my best interest in mind. It’s great not to be just another student in a classroom. Now I am actually interning at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel for the summer.

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

I am going to get my master’s in Hospitality Management. I am going to be a Chef and later transition my career into a Personal Chef.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about cooking and helping people. I love being able to brighten up someone’s life even if it is only for a moment. It’s an even better opportunity to be able to give guest a great experience through food and customer service.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of my poster in front of the bookstore at Cypress and the person that God is helping me become.

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

I would be less shy and be willing to ask for more help.

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

If you know that a subject is hard for you go to tutoring in the beginning. The last thing I would like to say is major in something that you are passionate about even if it takes time to figure out what it is. Even if there is no one supporting you, you can be your own self motivator.

Roshni Chahwala, Radiologic Technology

Roshni recently earned her certification in Radiologic Technology from Cypress College, and almost immediately got a job offer from Placentia-Linda Hospital’s Radiology Department; soon after, Kaiser Permanente gave her an additional job as an X-ray technologist. Roshni wants to continue growing in the radiology world, learn all she can, and further her education by achieving a bachelor’s degree that could move her into a management-level position. Roshni hopes to one day teach and train bright minds in the department of radiology.

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

I was born in New Jersey but grew up in California. I enjoy watching and playing sports, especially basketball. The beach, park, and anything outdoors is usually where you can find me the happiest.

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

I chose Cypress College because of its outstanding reputation as well as its credibility for the Radioglogic Technician program. I commuted over an hour to get to Cypress College and it was more than every good thing I heard. Because of the college’s reputation, I was able to find multiple employments as soon as I received my licenses for X-ray.

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?

From Kelly Carter to Michael Frianeza to Lynn Mitts, everyone took their time to guide me to success.

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 my studies, I received a job offer at Placentia-Linda Hospital in the Radiology Department. Shortly after that I received a job offer as an X-ray technologist at Kaiser Permanente. I am currently working at those two locations and went further to obtain my credentials in mammography.

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

I hope to continue growing in the radiology world, learn a lot and further my education in achieving my bachelor’s. One day, I hope to teach and train bright minds in the department of radiology. I also want to get my bachelor’s, to move into the management level of radiology.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I’m the most passionate at being helpful and useful to others. Nothing is more gratifying than finishing a workday knowing you could have saved a life or turned someone’s day around for the better.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud in where I stand today: the daughter of hard-working immigrants who achieved more than most from a community college, which guided me to an amazing job that allowed me to check off “buying a home” at age 25.

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

Nothing. All the hardships were meant to happen to get me where I am now: extremely happy.

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

Seek guidance when needed. Counselors are there, utilize them. Ask as many questions as you need.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Community college has always had a stigma to it compared to universities. But what I gained in such a short amount of time, no one can take that away from me. I am a huge advocate for community college, especially Cypress College. Thank you.