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Finding my community at Skyhawk Saturday



Major: Sociology – Ethnic Studies option
Hometown: Los Lunas, NM

Year: Junior

When I was a senior in high school, I only had one priority in mind: get out of the small town in New Mexico that I was from. I had lived in a small town my entire life, a place where everyone in town knows your family, where you can’t go to the store or a movie without seeing at least one person you know, and where nearly everyone knows your business.

If there was one thing I was absolutely sure of by the time I was a senior, it was that I had to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. This new experience I was craving had to be the complete opposite of everything I knew. In my mind, this meant a city far away from New Mexico, a big Division I state school with football games and sororities and new people and new experiences. I built up an image of what my perfect college experience would look like. In my mind, I never once thought a small, liberal arts school would actually be the perfect fit for me.

I applied to several different colleges the fall semester of my senior year. My top choices were the University of Arizona, Texas Tech, and Arizona State University. I had really great grades and did well enough on my ACT that I gained acceptance to all three of my top schools. What stopped me from going? After my parents caught a glimpse of the price tags for the out-of-state schools I had my heart set on, an unfortunate reality set in; I could not afford to attend school out-of-state.

After that realization, I began to think my dream of leaving New Mexico was not going to happen. I applied to the University of New Mexico like the rest of my friends, ready to face a future I felt like I was settling for. That’s when my father suggested we visit a small, liberal arts college in Durango, Colorado, just north of Aztec. At this point, I figured why not? I had nothing to lose.

My parents and I got up super early one weekend to drive to Fort Lewis College for Skyhawk Saturday. As soon as we pulled into Durango, I knew I found what I had been looking for. I was in a place completely different from my hometown, but still had a dose of that small town charm I’d grown up with. It wasn’t until I visited a small school, opposite of every other college I’d had in mind that I realized this was the type of college experience I’d been craving all along.

Tina and friends at El Centro de Muchos ColoresDuring Skyhawk Saturday, I met current students, professors, and others at FLC who helped me choose the perfect school for me. Every single person I talked to was super friendly, encouraging, and helpful, just like I envisioned my ideal college to be. I met my current employer Shirena Trujillo-Long from El Centro de Muchos Colores, my current roommate Adam, a co-worker at El Centro and a great friend, my study abroad advisor Jennifer Gay, who helped me travel to Costa Rica last fall, and many other students whom I now know as great friends at the Fort.

I never once thought a small town in Colorado would be the perfect fit for a small town girl looking to try something new, but for me, Durango was just that. With the help of the New Mexico Reciprocal Scholarship, my dream of attending college out-of-state came true. My entire world has changed since coming to Fort Lewis and I cannot be more grateful for that. I’ve changed my major twice, tried things I’d never thought I was capable of, seen parts of the world I never thought I would, and had more fun than I ever thought possible.

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