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Me gusta bailar

Me gusta bailar

The September sun was glaring in my face, but I did not find it as intimidating as I had four years ago. I walked out with our group composed of old and new members for the Yucatan dance we had been rehearsing for a month. With each bittersweet step at my last Fiesta on the Mesa, I realized that I’d grown immensely in confidence from the “freshman who could not dance” who decided to try something new in college.

My personal journey

My personal journey

As a high school student from California, the idea that I’d end up attending a small college in the mountains seemed, for lack of a better word, insane. The plan was to attend a University of California school; I couldn’t have possibly foreseen the transformation that was soon to morph the very essence of who I am. I remember stumbling upon Fort Lewis College on the internet—the school seemed beautiful and friendly but a bit secluded and small, especially considering it wasn’t much larger than my high school.

My speech for Skyhawk Saturday

My speech for Skyhawk Saturday

As much as all of you might not realize it, every student in this room has something in common. You are all here because you are thinking of your future and pursuing the path of college. I was in the same place as you, just four short years ago. I know the decision you are being faced with now. It is hard to decide where, why and what to go to college for. There are dorms to see, class sizes to consider, degree options to look at, costs of attendance, distance from home, food options, where you can go shopping, how much Call of Duty time you are going to have, and where the best long boarding hill is. Most importantly, where you will be happy, as well as successful? For me, Fort Lewis has it all.

Service with the Environmental Center

Service with the Environmental Center

One of the most rewarding experiences for me here at Fort Lewis College has been getting involved with the Environmental Center on campus.  As a freshman, I was very nervous about making new friends and finding a place where I could connect with like- minded students.  Yet the moment I walked through the doors and into the sunlit cluster of bulletin boards, plants and comfy chairs, I felt instantly at home. 

Getting creative

Getting creative

I remember the dread that hung over me as I moved my stuff into the dorm my freshman year. I had no desire to live on campus with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I was nervous about how the year would go and truly wished that I didn’t have to experience the dorms at all. However, this quickly changed as I got settled into my dorm. In the first few weeks of school, I met the people living in my dorm and the surrounding dorms, eventually meeting people from all across campus.

Hands-on learning: Psych style

Hands-on learning: Psych style

When I thought about what my college classes would be like, I imagined big lecture halls with hundreds of students and monotone teachers endlessly preaching from the front of the classroom. So, needless to say, when I sat down for my first class at the Fort I was pleasantly surprised. The average class size at Fort Lewis is 23 students. Having classes this small really allows for a more intimate and interactive learning experience. I am not just a number on a roster amongst hundreds of other nameless students.

The last frontier

The last frontier

I opened my eyes and sat up in my seat. Then, remembering where I was, I quickly pulled up my window shade and caught my breath as I took in the view from my little airplane window. An enormous expanse of mountains, ocean, trees, mud flats, pink and golden clouds…I could hardly contain my amazement at the beauty I was seeing. I pressed my face closer to the tiny window, trying to better view my first glimpse of Alaska.

My speech for Skyhawk Saturday

My speech for Skyhawk Saturday

As much as all of you might not realize it, every student in this room has something in common. You are all here because you are thinking of your future and pursuing the path of college. I was in the same place as you, just four short years ago. I know the decision you are being faced with now. It is hard to decide where, why and what to go to college for. There are dorms to see, class sizes to consider, degree options to look at, costs of attendance, distance from home, food options, where you can go shopping, how much Call of Duty time you are going to have, and where the best long boarding hill is. Most importantly, where you will be happy, as well as successful? For me, Fort Lewis has it all.

Oh, the places you'll go!

Oh, the places you'll go!

I have always liked having a plan and setting goals, so when I started my junior year as a Political Science major at Fort Lewis, finding an internship was part of my plan and my number one goal. I spent some time researching big internship opportunities that would put me front and center of the political world in Washington D.C. and eventually found one that fit my standards. I spent days preparing all of my application materials and writing and editing the essay questions. Finally in January I submitted my application to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Internship Program and the waiting game began.

How the Fort changed my life!

How the Fort changed my life!

For many years, I had a question in my head that would not go away – should I return to school and commit to earning a four year degree? My late 20’s and early 30’s involved long summers working in backcountry settings followed by quiet winters, working random jobs to pass the time. I discovered Durango in 2009. At the time, I was managing a two-year project protecting sensitive high alpine environment in the San Juan Mountains.

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