Julian Ciarella, LSC-North Harris

Winning Essay:

Country music sensation Rodney Atkins coined the phrase, "discount knowledge at the junior college." Yes, Lone Star College is a place where I can receive knowledge that could rival any major university for about one-fourth of the price, but it is considerably more than that.
Some of my greatest life lessons have come from this astonishing institution. In fact, my Lone Star College experience has influenced my life in countless different ways.

Before coming to Lone Star, I was diagnosed with cancer, in 2010, at the youthful age of 18. Unfortunately, I was forced to drop out of high school because of my grueling and lengthy chemotherapy treatments. After six months of practically living in a cramped hospital room, I was declared cancer-free in 201 1. The following month I obtained my GED, here, at LSC-North Harris. A year later, I would go on to become a full-time LSC student, and the first person in my family to ever receive any form of post-secondary education. Just when I would begin to doubt if I was even smart enough to attend college, the faculty and staff here were always encouraging, helpful, and willing to do anything to ensure my own personal success. Now with 27 credit hours under my belt and a 4.0 GPA, I can honestly say that Lone Star College has influenced me to truly believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. Professors, counselors, faculty and staff, you all have given me the fresh start to life that I desperately needed. Because of LSC, the phrase, "I can't" is not in my vocabulary.

American writer Mark Twain famously said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." Thanks to the first class professors employed by Lone Star College, such as my English professor, Mr. Danel Olson, and government professor, Dr. Robert Locander, schooling and education coincide here. These two sage professors have taught me the most valuable of lessons: critical thinking. They have influenced me to reject the commentaries of the world and form my own unbiased and outward-looking stance in regards to a current event, historical event, or any other subject matter. My experience in their classrooms has transformed me from a parrot into an independent thinker; from a subjective person into an objective person. To see the true meaning of anything you must be objective, and my gratitude remains high to LSC for these two professors who truly educated me.

The final hallmark of my Lone Star College experience is my interaction with an incredibly diverse student body. My involvement here has influenced me to be more understanding of the many world religions and ethnic groups. I have had the incredible pleasure of being a part of a study group that consisted of the three Abraharnic Religions. Regardless of our personal faith, we came together for a common goal; to excel in our education. My day-to­ day life at Lone Star College-North Harris has made realize the benefit of diversity. Through diversity, we can collect an abundance of solutions to any worldly problem. The diversity at this institution is what has made my experience nothing short of exceptional.

In closing, Lone Star College is not just a community college; it is a place for new beginnings. LSC has changed my life, significantly, for the better. I am now a critical thinker, a person who cherishes diversity, and a true believer of my own exceptionalism. None of this would have been possible without Lone Star College-North Harris leading me to success. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.