Believe it or not, but I didn’t think much about community colleges when I first enrolled in Wake Tech.
Having left UNC Charlotte just two months prior, accustomed to the exhilarating environment filled with parties and the joy of being my own person away from home, attending community college felt like my life was retracting. With all my classes withdrawn, I felt that I messed up my life by being careless and that I should’ve been more mature in conducting myself.
Upon my return home, I broke down. By no means was I a victim, but I strongly felt the pain of disappointment, loneliness, and shame. Seeing at though the whole “university thing” didn’t work out for me, I looked into alternatives. I didn’t know what to do —at all— but Wake Tech came to mind.
A fresh start
Once I applied, got accepted, and signed up for the first line of classes, I began the next step to the most enriching experience I’ve had thus far. I connected with a variety of people on campus who came and went throughout the entire day. I could be commonly found in the student lounge simply hanging around talking to whoever seemed friendly.
As much as I enjoyed having all the leisure time outside of class, I knew I wanted to have a greater purpose at Wake Tech. I made sure to do well in class (which wasn’t nearly as easy as I expected) knowing that getting high marks would be the least I could do in attending college. Nearing the end of the first semester, a young woman entered the student lounge handing out applications for the Student Government Association (SGA). I knew after reviewing the SGA description that this was the organization for me.
As an SGA Senator, I started taking a deeper interest in students and the overall college. With various campuses throughout North Carolina and a wide-spread demographic base, there was much to learn about Wake Tech and its role with various communities and industries.
By my fourth and final semester at Wake Tech, I had turned my life around, and it was thanks to everyone at the college for being incredibly caring and giving me the opportunity to show what I was capable of.
There’s something about positivity that just attracts more of itself because through all of the drive and passion I expressed, I ended up meeting Congressman David Price. It was on that same day, just an hour or so after meeting the Congressman, that I had the spontaneous opportunity to be interviewed on WRAL.
Coincidentally, I was dressed formally that day in preparation to attend the 15th Anniversary of the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals, where I became significantly closer to the Latino community and embarked on this route toward becoming a young leader advocating for higher education and the progression of success for minorities. Since then, I have made great strides in advocating the importance of community colleges and Latino success in the rising generations.
By now, I have completed my internship in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Price, involved myself in numerous education and Hispanic organizations, and created an expansive network of professionals—and have countless doors available for me to open.
Taking a new direction
To think that just two years ago, I was enjoying life out of high school without a clear sense of direction, purpose, and tenacity to reach the goals most people don’t even dare to take on; goals such as being a world-renown leader in higher education, a business executive, or even a member of Congress.
But now more than ever, I believe I do have the capability to take on any goal I set for myself. I may not know how I will accomplish it starting off, but I have faith that the things I do now will somehow click later on and guide me down the path I want to take.
To anyone thinking about community college: attend! You may want a change of scenery, have the university life, party, whatever — but there is no experience like the one you will have at a community college.
If you want to something, whether that is something like getting a job, attending an Ivy League school, or developing yours skills and potential for success, know that it is very possible at a community college! It may not be as large or decorative, but you will be in an environment where you can mature greatly at your own pace much easily, enabling you to develop the mentality you desire to take on your endeavors.
You will be able to do everything you want to in life even if you attended a community college. What matters is how you use your time.
David Roman is a spring 2014 graduate of Wake Tech Community College and a former intern in the office of N.C. Rep. David Price. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.