Alumni return to share university experience, give advice

By Jessica Suico, Advocate Staff

Five alumni from Contra Costa College’s Center for Science Excellence (CSE) spoke about their experiences while transferring from Contra Costa College into the UC system at an on-campus forum on Jan 10.

“The first semester was really hard to adjust to,” UC Davis student Miguel Palmero said. “But I got the feel for a UC by getting involved with programs and resources on campus — that really helped me.”

Palmero said the only thing that rivals the diversity of students at UC Davis is the size of the campus. “I don’t think I’ve been to every part yet.”

After three weeks into a quarter at UC Davis, he said he took his first exam, but three weeks into a semester at CCC he said he was barely buying books.

Palmero also told the group of students that a semester at UC Davis is 10-weeks long while a semester at CCC is 16-weeks long.

Alumni who spoke on the CSE panel all spoke highly of the programs they completed and people they met while enrolled at CCC.

After the open-forum, CCC engineering major Antonio Rojas Cortez said, “Yes, I got a lot of positive information and inspiration from the discussion. I’m not so stressed about transferring and now I know how to transfer and it’s not so scary to me now.”

Former CCC student Natalie Ramirez, now enrolled at UC Berkeley, told students in attendance that while the curriculum is compressed at a four-year university, it is easier to study something you are passionate about.

“Don’t go with something you will regret,” Ramirez said. “Go with your heart. Focus on what you want for yourself and don’t let your doubts detour you from school or your goals.”

She said students should know their limits and not enroll into too many units.

“Don’t forget about your family or your visions while attending school. Focus on studying, but learn to take small breaks if you’re getting too stressed.”

Ramirez also told CCC students that UC professors do not pressure their students to complete assignments in class — it is expected that students read the assignment list on the syllabus.

Speaker, former CCC student, Kevin Hernandez is enrolled at San Jose State University.

Hernandez talked about his experience majoring in engineering and what helps him stay on track with his studies.

“Having a plan for your day, or week, always helps me with time management,” he said. “Even writing little notes for myself helps a lot.”

Hernandez also encouraged students attending the Center for Science Excellence sponsored event to reach out to peers for help.

“You can work as hard as you can, but you can’t do it by yourself.” Hernandez said. “Most San Jose Engineering majors who are social usually get a job in that field right after they graduate.”

Former CSE student Brenda Vega is enrolled at UC Berkeley.

Vega spoke about the importance of networking and establishing a base of people who support each other after graduating.

She said there are resources everywhere to teach students time management skills, where to go for information about housing, food, money or books.

Vega said there are resources are all around and students just have to put in the effort to look and find them.

Students were curious to know if the speakers also found employment on campus while pursuing a degree. Hernandez said that he did not work during the school year, but during the summer he would be working with his engineering professor to get hands on engineering training working in the field.

He said he worked for BART in years prior and loved the job but the schedule was anywhere from 30-40 hours a week and he couldn’t work there and go to school.

Palmero said he is on his second semester at UC Davis where students have access to a job assistance program and website that helps them find internships and job interviews.

Hernandez said, “To inspire others you need to push yourself to reach your goal or goals so when you look back in years after you will be amazed on how far you have gotten and will get.”