Fullerton College students come from all walks of life – each one with an individual story of how they arrived at FC, challenges and achievements they’ve experienced along the way, and most importantly, a goal of where they’re headed beyond Fullerton College. Their stories help connect us, inspire us, and give meaning to fact that Community Lives Here.
Guadalupe Cortez is the oldest of four siblings, a first-generation college student, and has a strong motivation to succeed. A graduate of Cathedral High School in Cathedral City, Cortez earned her way to the top of her class; was on the honor’s list with a 4.0 GPA and expected to attend a UC or Ivy League institution. However when deciding on a college, she thought about what made her passionate about higher education and came to one conclusion: Career and Technical Education (CTE). CTE courses in high school allowed her to try new career fields where she eventually found a love for media communications.
During her freshmen year of high school she was introduced to Skills USA, an organization that helps prepare students enrolled in CTE courses to be career-ready and has held leadership positions in the student-led organization since then. Researching colleges for CTE programs, Cortez came across Fullerton College and found the CTE programs she was looking for. She moved to Fullerton and enrolled at Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton becoming a dual enrollment student so that she could take CTE courses and work on her bachelor’s degree concurrently. She is now in her second year at Fullerton College taking courses in photography and graphic design and on her way to earning two certificates while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications at CSUF. In addition, she serves at the national level with Skills USA as the College Post-Secondary secretary and Joint-Executive Council vice chair representing more than 900,000 students in all 50 states and four American territories. Skills USA and CTE programs have played a tremendous role in her educational journey and in developing her for a career and as a professional. Here’s what Cortez has to say about being a Hornet!
Why did you choose Fullerton College?
Primarily I chose Fullerton College because I did not know of other colleges that were supporting CTE programs as much, and I knew this campus was by building more awareness of CTE. For me, coming from a background of CTE within high school, I wanted to help out with an increase in awareness and hopefully help reach out to other students who are enrolled in CTE programs here on campus to encourage them that they’re in a good place and that these courses will help them out in whatever career they want to pursue. Even if it’s a course or major they choose not continue in the future, they’re still obtaining career-readiness; skills such as professionalism, adaptability, flexibility, responsibility and teamwork. I know these are skills and qualities companies are looking for right now. They are looking for people that are career-ready, that have these skills and are able to keep growing within any industry.
What support programs have you encountered while at FC?
Counseling. For me, I had a really good connection with my counselor in high school and she always told me, year after year, that when you’re in college, make sure you have that good connection with your counselor, because they know a lot about your career path goals and how to achieve them. They will actually take time to go through every class with you and ask which courses you’d like to choose. Service Learning also made finding volunteer opportunities a breeze.
How has your experience with CTE programs been at Fullerton College?
The staff have been super supportive and have expressed that their No. 1 priority is their students. They will do whatever they can to be there for their students, even if it means taking extra time to explain concepts and lessons. In the past, I’ve had teachers that were not as accommodating. Here on this campus, within the CTE courses, I’ve witnessed faculty that put their students first before themselves, and are able to point out a student’s potential of what they could be interested in within their classes.
What did you enjoy most about Fullerton College?
The support and the sense of being welcomed. I’ve been on the campus of my community college back home and I didn’t feel as welcomed as I do when I’m at Fullerton College. There’s something that makes you feel like you’re a part of the campus at Fullerton College. I feel like I belong here. Also, when I communicate with faculty about concerns and what’s been going on, they’re super flexible and understanding. They want to see you grow and I think the support that I’ve experienced so far comes from this college.
Do you have any advice for new and current students?
Whenever you have a chance or whenever you have the opportunity to take a chance, just take it. Whether it’s an opportunity to be a part of this campus, an opportunity for you to just apply your skills within your classroom, or just anything itself during your college experience here at Fullerton College – just take it, because you never know how far it may take you. You may have that fear of whether it’s going to go right or wrong, but you will never know unless you try.