#CYProud: Alejandra Garcia, Biology
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 are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.
Cypress + CSUF
Garcia is a biology major transferring to Cal State Fullerton following her graduation from Cypress College. She is a STEM scholar who enjoys volunteering, and aspires to attend medical school and become an OB-GYN.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I grew up in Tustin and attended Tustin High School. I was doing well and had a promising future. Then, in my senior year, I became pregnant. When I told family and friends about my pregnancy, they all immediately said my life was over and that I had ruined my future. The staff at my high school just saw me as another statistic: teen mom who would drop out of high school and work a minimum wage job — that would be all. I, on the other hand, felt even more determined.
I graduated from high school while my newborn daughter was in the stands. I then decided to keep pursuing my education, so I enrolled at Cypress College. I decided to follow my dreams and follow the pre-medicine path. When I would tell friends and family, they all said I was crazy, that I should major in something simple and graduate as soon as possible and get a job. Again, I didn’t listen. I listened to my mom who told me to follow my dreams and that she supported me. Being the first person in my family to attend college had its difficulties. It took me five years to finally be able to graduate and transfer, but it was well worth it when I received acceptance letters from seven out of the eight schools that I applied to.
Why did you choose Cypress College?
At first, I chose Cypress College because it was conveniently close to my house. Later, I did research about the College and found that it was an amazing school. After a few semesters at Cypress College, I was ecstatic about the high quality of professors we have. I have never had the need to take a class at another campus. In fact, I have met people who come from the areas around San Bernardino because we have highly qualified professors on campus. Cypress College is a great school, and I feel very happy with my decision to enroll here.
What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
I have been part of the (STEM)2 program since its early days at Cypress College. I can honestly say that a huge part of my college success has been because of the program. As the first person in my family to attend college, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Through this program, not only did I learn how to present myself in a professional manner, but have been able to experience and take part in many different events. I had the opportunity to go to a pre-med conference at the University of California, Davis, where I met with professionals that were already where I want to be one day. I have also been able to give back to my community through this program. I have been a part of the College’s Kindercaminata, where I was in charge of the STEM booth. I have done volunteer work at St. Mary’s Hospital and a local non-profit pregnancy clinic where not only do I get to shadow and learn from healthcare professionals, but also help people from my community. Through the (STEM)2 program, I was able to acquire my first summer research experience at Cal State Fullerton. Most importantly, through the (STEM)2 program, I was able to meet some of my closest friends today.
What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am very passionate about helping people, most importantly pregnant teens. I am very fortunate to volunteer at a non-profit pregnancy clinic where I get to mentor pregnant women who are going through a crisis pregnancy. A lot of the times these women feel like there is no help and there is no hope for the future. I like to share my story with these women and tell them that there is always another way and there is always hope. My goal is to one day be an OB-GYN and help pregnant women who feel like they are lost and show them that it is possible to overcome any obstacle.
Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
There are four faculty and staff members who have helped me get where I am today. The first faculty member is Professor Robin De Roo. She is the organic chemistry professor here at Cypress College. Her class has been one of the most difficult classes I have ever taken, but she has always motivated me to keep trying. She was also a single mother trying to finish school with two children, so she knows the difficulties of having children and going to school. She has always encouraged me to keep going with school, telling me that although it is difficult, never give up because I’m being a good example for my daughter.
Next is Dr. Adel Rajab. He is one of the biology professors here at Cypress College. Dr. Rajab is an extraordinary professor and human being. I have been able to go to him and ask for letters of recommendation, as well as help with projects at Cypress College. I could always go to him if I needed help and he would do anything in his power to help me. It was an amazing feeling knowing that there was a faculty member that would stop whatever he was doing in order to help me out.
Finally, there is the director of the (STEM)2 program, Ms. Yanet Garcia. Ms. Garcia is the founder of (STEM)2, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first students admitted into the program. I have seen how much she has grown the program and how much she has helped students who are in the program. If it hadn’t been for her and this program, it would have taken me even longer to graduate and transfer. I owe much of my success to her and the (STEM)2 program.
What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
This summer I will be doing research at Cal State Fullerton where I will be working on how copper is transported from mother to fetus during pregnancy. I will also be transferring in the fall to Cal State Fullerton where I will be working on my bachelor’s degree in biological science. I hope to continue my involvement in the research project, as well as volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital and the non-profit pregnancy clinic.
What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My long-term goal is to go to medical school. My dream medical school is the University of California, San Francisco, but I would be happy to attend any medical school. After I graduate from medical school, I hope to specialize as an OB-GYN to work with women who are in a crisis pregnancy. I also hope to one day have my own clinic that provides women with all the services they need in order to feel that an unplanned pregnancy is not the end of the world.
What are you most proud of?
What I am most proud of is that my daughter is seeing her mother go on this journey and at her young age, is seeing and understanding how important education is. I am also very proud that my mother, who was also a single mother, is seeing her hard work paying off. I have my daughter and my mother to share my achievements with because I am very thankful for their unconditional love and support.
What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
My bit of advice that I would like to share to current and future students is to not give up. There have been many times that I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore, when I felt like the classes were too hard and maybe I was not cut out to do this. Well, unfortunately the classes do not get easier but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You always have to remember what is driving you and not lose focus on that. Surround yourself with people that are positive and have that same drive as you to keep each other focused. You will get through this, and once you get that degree or land that dream job, it will all be worth it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would just like to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at Cypress College. I have met amazing people in my five years here. There were times where it got rough, but there was always someone who pushed me to keep going. It has been an amazing experience, and I am very proud to be part of the Cypress College 2017 graduating class.