The Komparelt Scholarship 2019 Award Winner
Winner: Michael Garcia
The Komparelt Scholarship team is excited to announce the winner for our 2019 Scholarship is Michael Garcia from Pasadena City College. To apply, students had to submit an essay on education and their future. Congratulations, Michael!
I am a current/former foster youth and EOP&S/Next Up student who is currently enrolled at Pasadena City College, am writing this regarding The KompareIt Scholarship. I’ve needed to petition and apply for scholarships to fund my college and personal living expenses. I’m determined to transfer with AS_T in Business Administration, but this will not be possible to do without the assistance of financial aid and scholarships. I would love to transfer to UC Berkeley or USC and obtain an MBA and possibly a Ph.D. in economics.
A little information about my background: when I was growing up, my dad wasn’t around because he was too busy doing drugs, being a gang member, and going to prison, so it was just my mom taking care of me and my brother. Life was a constant challenge. We had been homeless several times, lived in cars and motels, or stayed at family houses because we had nowhere. Since my mother struggled to provide for me, I began to rely on myself to get what I needed to survive, and since I didn’t really have positive influences in my life, I found inspiration from the wrong people; I was heavily involved in crime, which gave me what I needed temporarily, but I dropped out of school when I was 13 and dedicated my life to criminal activity. Things eventually caught up to me. I was always in and out of juvenile hall, and when I was 15, the courts emancipated me and sent me to a placement facility. While in the foster care system, I was forced back into school, which was good, but I was still constantly getting into fights and not focusing on my education, so I basically kept the same mentality rather than grow into a better person. After leaving the foster care system at age 17, I returned to live with my mom. Shortly after returning to my mother’s apartment, I find out that my father died. I continued getting into trouble and getting thrown in jail until I was about 21. I finally realized that a life of prison wasn’t for me, and I didn’t want to end up like my father, so I decided to change the course of my life and enroll in college to acquisition a better future.
Some information about my college education: I’m the first in my family to attend college and pursue higher education, and I started attending classes Spring 2015; my mother left to live in Ohio when I was 19, so I’ve been left to develop and survive with no family assistance or guidance; I’ve worked hard to pass all my classes while trying to survive with minimal assistance in life, and I’m currently struggling to maintain a stable living condition while working to get my life in order. My mother recently passed away on May 25, 2019, so this has been emotionally and financially crippling for me. I was consumed by depression, but my personal counselor at my college campus has helped me work through many of my issues.
Attending Pasadena City College has given me hope in life and has allowed me to develop confidence in myself, for I’ve realized that I’m good at learning and my professors have helped me discover this buried potential. I even made Dean’s Honors Fall 2016, and in Spring 2019 I also made Dean’s Honors and earned a scholarship for English composition. The hopelessness that a life of struggling has left ingrained within my demeanor has begun to be washed away by the bliss that bubbled in from the various classes I’ve completed on the road to achieving my goal of transfer with an AS_T in Business Administration—PCC has given me a purpose to live and believe life can be better. I was even recommended by my former economics professor to become an economics tutor at my campus, and I’m currently tutoring students to help them succeed in their courses.
When I started attending college, I just wanted a better future for myself, but now that I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much, and even help other students to learn, I’ve decided that I want to become a college professor. My professors helped me to find my path, and they gave me the confidence to succeed, so I too would like to contribute back to society in the same ways they have contributed to me. My college professors gave me the direction I needed in life, and I can honestly say they saved my life. I no longer walk alone in my path towards a better future, for I have all those who have believed in me by my side for the journey ahead.
I am not a fortune teller, but I am certain that I will reach my dreams with the continued help of financial aid and scholarships, but if it were to stop, I too would have to stop attending college and pursuing higher education. The money I’ve received through financial aid and scholarships, along with the money I’ve made through tutoring, has allowed me to survive this far, but without it I will be forced to drop out and work fulltime, abandoning my dreams of transfer and obtaining degrees while perpetuating the lack of college education in my family’s history. To be so close to completion and fail to cross the finish line will be debilitating to me, but my life has been full of hardships and disappointment, so this would not be an exception. I have progressed so much thanks to the amazing faculty and peers at Pasadena City College, and I have so much love for this campus that there are no words I can use to describe my appreciation. All I can say is thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way and for being the family and influence that I never had. To who has read this: thank you for your time and consideration.
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