Ricardo Hernandez Garduno

I was born and raised in Northern California, in a small town called Graton. My freshman and sophomore years in high school were not spent on an education. In my junior and senior years in high school, I realized that I needed to get good grades to go to college. I graduated high school 224th out of 250 students in my senior class. I knew an education was important however, I was not ready to attend college right out of high school. At that time, I knew I would have wasted my time in college classes.

My calling was to join the United States Marine Corps at the age of 20 years old. Serving in the U.S. Marine Corps is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. While in the military I married and had two children. I went overseas to the war in Iraq 2003. In 2004 I left the military for a career in real estate.


During 2005, I was working fulltime in order to provide for my family and going to school full time because getting an education is necessary in today's work force. All the time away from family life, led my wife and I to get a divorce. In 2007 our divorced was finalized and I had 50/50 shared custody with my ex-wife. I had no family here in San Diego but decided that I was going to do whatever it took to be part of my children's life; I clearly could no longer continue to attend school as I had to provide from my daughters. At that point I thought my educational goal would never happen.


The first few years after my divorce were very challenging, as I worked a full time job and another part time job at nights when my daughters were with their mother. For a few years I worked only having two weekends off a month. I worked at a Bank and a retail shoe store, and with great sacrifice and great programs for vets I was able to buy a home in 2009, which we are still fixing up whenever we can.

In January of 2011 I was let go from the bank. I had always been dreaming of the chance of getting a degree. My parents never got past the 5th grade in Mexico. When I attended college in 2006 I had no idea what career I wanted to peruse, so I took classes in real estate, business administration and criminal justice. When I went back to school 2011 I made sure to speak with a counselor and really listened to what they said and came up with a game plan and decided to pursue a degree in public administration. I received my A.S. in Administrative Justice 2012 then transferred to San Diego State University that same year to peruse bachelors in Public Administration. School was what I chose it to be. I had to put in a lot of time for homework as I was not a speed reader. I spent countless hours with the great tutors at the grossmont math lab because statistics was not my strong suit. My GPA has been about a 3.1 overall with some semesters making the honor roll at both schools.


I will graduate from San Diego State University this December 2013. My short term goal is getting a job with the government where I can help people. My long term goals are to build a career in the federal government where I can help people as well. I'd also like to buy a bigger home to give my daughters more room to play. One of my greatest joys is knowing that my daughters see the work I have put into reaching my educational goal, and they know the importance of getting an education.

I do plan on applying to graduate school in the next three to four years.

Loren-James Clark

I am a returning student going through the Adult Reentry Program at Grossmont College. I already earned two Bachelor's Degrees from Andrews University. My intentions were not so much to receive a degree from Grossmont College, but to receive training in a field that would prepare me for a great job and career path down the road.


My degrees are in Music/Organ Performance and in Graphic Design. So, I wanted to develop those skills further into a lifelong career that I could be happy with. My first semester at Grossmont College, I thought I would transition into Web Design. That proved not to be a good match for me, and I dropped my entire class load and did not finish the semester.


The following semester I had to evaluate and consider which programs offered at Grossmont College interested me, if any. I chose Media Communication, on the count that I had previously taken Communications coursed in my undergraduate degree, and was only about 6-8 credits shy of a Communication Minor. I remember enjoying the classes I had taken.


That semester was an exploratory period for me to see if I fit into the program, and what was the right path for me to follow. I found classes immensely enjoyable and realized that off of the professors were extremely intelligent and were experts in their craft. It was apparent that I had found the right program for me. I chose the path of Film and Television Production.


I will finish my program next semester, and hope to complete an internship at Fox 5 News, San Diego. I am extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity to study film at Grossmont College. Due to recent changes in Financial Aid, I would no longer be allowed to attend classes here at Grossmont College or any community college in the upcoming year. So, I finished my program just in time. If I were not finishing next semester, my window of opportunity would shut forever.



Carl Allen

My name is Carl Allen, I am 31 year old and I attend Grossmont College full time with a current GPA of 3.9. I am majoring in Media Communications with emphasis in Audio Production. In two semesters from now I will have my Media Communications Certificate, and in three semesters my AA.


In August 2009 I was working a dead end job for a collection agency going nowhere fast. I was living paycheck to paycheck, with no real direction for my future. I was ready to give in and give up in life and just continue to do what it is I'd been doing". struggle and live unhappily. Some of my close friends, and yes even my mother, suggested that before I just give in, to go back to school and pursue the radio and announcing career I've always wanted. Easy for them to say "How was I going to go back to school? Still pay rent and other bills? Study and do homework???...I wasn't 18 with no responsibilities, I was 29 with rent due and bills to pay" But I was going to do it, and with no more excuses.


I went to the college and talked to someone in the Financial Aid Office, they gave me all the information on how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), how to apply for the Board of Governors Waiver Fee, and even Student Loans. After completing the online FASFA I was awarded $2,500 a semester in the form of the Pell Grant to help pay for college and other related living expenses. I also qualified for the BOG Waiver Fee, which made the total cost for all my classes per semester $1!!!So with all my classes only costing a dollar total and receiving the extra Pell Grant money, back to school I went in the Fall of 2009.


With the support staff and services available through Grossmont College, no obstacle is too large to overcome. But let me tell you about a couple of mistakes that I made that might save you some time and grief on your journey back to college".


Mistake #1: I did not attend Adult Reentry Orientation, nor did I realize the resources available through the Adult Reentry Center. The A.R.C. provides one on one assistance. I feel that if I would have met with the staff and utilized the A.R.C. I probably would have graduated earlier.


Mistake #2: I did not meet with an academic counselor until four semesters later. I was aimlessly taking classes. After meeting with a counselor I am now on the right track.


As of today I am not only working on my degree, but also the possibility of a news internship with hiring potential at CNN in Atlanta GA. I have never felt so confident, eager and ready to take on the career I've always wanted. The education I am receiving now will help me for years to come in the radio and announcing industries. Eliminate the phrase "I can't" from your mind and replace it with "I will". Believe in yourself and anything is possible.



Darron Devillez

  • Veteran of the U.S. Navy. Was a See Bee Rank E5

  • After the Navy was a general contractor with his own business for 20 years.

  • Economic times led to his business declining and his family falling apart. He began a drug abuse problem.

  • Went to the Vets Village of San Diego for 18 months, here he was diagnosed with PTSD 30 years after his military service.

  • Became drug free through the vet's village and the help of a mentor. He got his family back together and decided to start here at Grossmont in 2003.

  • He was undecided on what to major in until he took a communications class with Roxanne Tuscany. She encouraged him to join the Speed and Debate Club. Not sure at first he attended a tournament to observe and thought I could do that. He is now a member of the speech and debate team here at Grossmont and got 3rd place in a national competition.

  • He had chosen to major in communications.

  • While here at Grossmont Darron also found out about the benefits available to Veteran students and became active in the veterans program. He is now president of the SVO, Student Veterans Organization and has become a voice for our veteran students.

  • Darron has two classes to complete and he will transfer to SDSU as a communications major.


Jamie Lyerly

I started at Grossmont College as a single mother of a kindergarten aged child, while working full time. The challenges of being a single mother going back to school are great, as everything depends on you to make happen. I studied English and Art, and received my AA in English from Grossmont in Fall 2007. During my time at Grossmont College, I was a part of the EOPS program, including as a Peer Mentor, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Dr. Sue Gonda was my mentor and inspiration while at Grossmont, and I did a special study as a Curatorial Assistant at the Women's History Museum under Dr. Gonda her final semester at Grossmont. I was also inspired by Gwenyth Mapes in the Humanities department and Jim Wilsterman and Jess Dominguez in the Art department. I started working part time at the GCCCD Information Systems department, allowing me to go full time to school. Then transferred to San Diego State University and received my BA in Art: Applied Design with a minor in Psychology in May 2011, graduating with distinction in the major. I won multiple scholarships for my academic, volunteer and artistic achievements, and have studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and did a two week study tour to China and Japan. I currently works full time at GCCCD, I am a professional artist, and run a spiritual based healing art business called the Expressive Goddess. My plan is to go back to school to get my Master's in Expressive Art Therapy when my son graduates from high school in less than two years.



Peg Marcus

Much of my childhood was spent helping my parents take care of my 6 younger siblings. I had one older brother and was frequently told that education was more important for the boys; thought my father "does fine and had to quit school in the sixth grade". He worked in a paint factory all of his life. In the Midwest, where I am from, that is what fathers did. Moms stayed home and dads worked in the auto plant, steel mill, paint factory etc.


I always loved learning and hated missing school. It was often necessary though, if my siblings had an illness that prevented them from going to school, I stayed home to take care of them. I mom or dad was sick; I missed school to take care of them. I spite of this I received rave reviews from teachers and straight "A's" on my report cards.


In tenth grade, I was offered to opportunity to live on the campus of the University of Toledo for the summer while taking college prep courses. In the fall I would return to my high school as a senior (skipping 11th grade) with a four year scholarship to the University. My parents couldn't allow me to go because they needed me at home. I quit school and got married shortly after.


Fast forward to age 30. Two of my siblings and I talked about returning to school. By this time some of us had moved to California. I was very excited when we enrolled in the GED classes and enjoyed not only learning again, but spending time studying with Jack and Penny. We all did very well on the GED test but none of us went any further at that time.


Six years later I was working at the Home of Guiding Hands. They strongly promoted continuing education, so I enrolled in classes such as residential services specialist, first aid, CPR, self-help and other classes. The nurse who was in charge of my shift encouraged me to take ROP classes. I began a five month course to become a Certified Nursing Assistant while still working full time and pass" with honors. That fall, I was scheduled to enter the step-up program to LVN. My divorce, an unexpected surgery and death in the family caused me to postpone school yet again.


Sometime after my 55th birthday, I began yearning again, to become a nurse. I still loved reading and learning new concepts but feared I was "too old" to do anything about it. Now I have completed my entire general education coursed and will get my AA degree in the spring of 2012.


It isn't as easy for me as it was when I was a teenager but I still love learning. At first I felt like a fish of water because I was definitely not the "typical college student". I made friends with professors and students of all ages. So far, I have had only one class that the professor is older than I, but that is okay.

I have found it very important utilize the resources that are available on campus: the reentry department, counseling, transfer department, student affairs, financial aid and the student government. Everyone I have talked to has been more than willing to help me find the answers to any questions that I have.


I have built a network of people who not only help me succeed with my education, but encourage me in all I want to achieve.



Lydia Mills

I came to Grossmont College in the fall of 2001 to follow my dream of achieving a degree in Music. After two years of study, I transferred to Christian Heritage College in El Cajon. Much to my surprise, I was unable to continue my studies due to being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. After three years of chemotherapy and recovery, I returned to Grossmont College to complete my degree in Music and was awarded the Outstanding Student of Department Award in Music, as well as Student of Note for 2007.


I accomplished my dream in earning a Music degree; however, I quickly realized that my career situation as a cancer survivor had changed. Music was my first love, but I needed more marketable skills to transition into the business world.


Once again, Grossmont College came to my aide, and with the help and guidance of the Career Center, I decided to return to school and earn a second degree in Business Office Technology. Despite dealing with post cancer stress disorders, I received my second degree with honors and was awarded the Outstanding Student of Department Award in Business Office Technology, Student of Note Award (for second time), and The Woman of Distinction Award for 2009.



Vernon E. Torres, Jr.

What Prompted You to Return to School?

In October 2006, our son was killed while serving in the army in Iraq. After his death, my wife and I spent our first Christmas without him volunteering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Working with our combat wounded inspired me to change careers so that I could work with our military. While in school, my wife and I have been working with our military through a non-profit organization that we founded in our son's name: Sgt Joseph W. Perry Memorial Corporation. The sacrifice that my son made for our country and seeing the dedication and heroism of our military men and women is my inspiration.



Gene Paul Cazaux

I will start with my work experience. I started my employment history as a sales clerk in an industrial supply store. I spent 5 years doing this and got bored and moved on to the construction field. The trade I chose was that of a field iron worker. The job was to install all the steel components of high rise buildings. I did this type of work for 20 years.


At age 45 I was injured and could not work any longer on construction projects. I knocked around at different things for a few years with no direction until I had a heart attack. This was a wakeup call; the realization came that I did not have forever. My girlfriend Becky, suggested I go to school to find a new direction in my life, and here I am, back in school at age 55. I'm finding the experience one of the most personally rewarding adventures of my life.


As to my educational background, I never finished high school. I thought this would be a hindrance, but is has not. I've received certificates of completion as an Advanced Telemetry Technician here at Grossmont college; and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) from Miramar College, and now I am on my way to completing the units required to attend San Diego State University where I will get my Masters Degree in Nursing. I am doing very well here at Grossmont College. My GPA is 3.4 and I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.


My education will not stop with my Masters Degree in Nursing; I plan to continue on in research in the Cardio Vascular field. This way I hope to make a contribution to society.



Patrick Kam

I graduated from El Cajon Valley High School in 1986. After high school I went  directly into the workforce and worked for several industries in government, transportation, healthcare, telecommunications, entertainment, restaurant and most recently the mortgage industry. With a recent layoff from my mortgage company, I decided to make another attempt at college. This would be my third try. School had never been one of my greatest achievements. I feared how I would fit in with the younger generation, overcome test anxiety; learn how to study again and the fear of failure. My outlook of college was so frightening that the thought of just standing on a college campus crippled me.

Fall 2008 is my first semester at Grossmont College. Three months ago I attended the Adult Reentry Orientation to familiarize myself with every resource available to help me adjust to college life. My short term goal is to do well in each class and stay in school. My long term goal is to earn an associate's degree in nursing at Grossmont College and then transfer to another college for a BSN.


I am currently taking a linked Project Success English and Reading combined course and a Personal Development course in Career and College Success. I highly recommend both of these classes.

My overall outlook about my college experience so far is very positive and I have gained a renewed confidence in myself. Aside from school I enjoy gardening, baking and running marathons. I have completed one full (26.2 miles) marathons and several half (13.1 miles) marathons throughout California. I feel that a marathon and college are similar, a small part physical and the rest is all mental.


Yolaine Eddington

I am a mother of 1 adult son and 4 beautiful grand children 1 boy, 3 girls. I am retired from the Navy after 21 years of service. After 32 years of going back and forth to school and never having completed any curriculum I have found it nearly impossible to secure employment which commensurate with my years of experience as a store keeper due to the lack of formal education. I am disabled at the moment and unemployed which is one of the reasons I returned to school in the hope that I can finally complete something that I started over 33 years ago and also secure better employment in the future.