More than 200 guests, friends and donors were on hand Jan. 28 at the 17th annual Lone Star College Foundation’s Chancellor’s Breakfast, where five Lone Star College System students described “How My Community College Experience Changed My Life.”
The students, one from each of the five Lone Star Colleges, received a $1,000 scholarship from the LSC Foundation. They shared their personal essays with the breakfast attendees who were on hand at Shirley Acres in north Houston.
Some of the students wrote about overcoming major obstacles in order to attend community college. Some wrote about a life-changing decision that helped them return to school after many years. And others wrote about a transformation – transforming from a shy, insecure teen-ager who doesn’t know what to do with his or her life, to an accomplished college student who has his sights on a specific life goal. All of the stories were heartwarming.
“If this is your first time to attend, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be here next year,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor, as part of his welcoming remarks to the invited guests.
The five essay winners were: Christina Mevs, LSC-CyFair; Sonia Parga, LSC-Kingwood; Lori Mendel, LSC-Montgomery; Richard Tovar, LSC-North Harris; and Gabriel Culver, LSC-Tomball.
Gil Staley, vice chair of the LSC Foundation board, said this event and the opportunity to hear from the essay winners reinforces each year why he volunteers his time with the Foundation.
“It’s so rewarding to hear these stories from these students, the sacrifices and the appreciation that they have for attending Lone Star College,” Staley said.
“Each and every one has a very unique story,” he said. “We hear from a very diverse group of students each year, which is wonderful. It shows the true diversity of our student population but it also demonstrates that LSCS serves an important role in providing education to all age groups, all ethnicities and all economic backgrounds.
“It’s just a vital role of a community college,” Staley said. He explained that the opportunity for the community to hear these stories is always worthwhile. “It’s just such a wonderful, wonderful event,” he said.
Darcy Mingoia, executive director of the LSC-Foundation, said the annual Chancellor’s Breakfast is the highlight of the year for the LSC-Foundation.
“It is an inspirational experience for our donors and supporters to hear, directly from students, how our college system changes their lives,” Mingoia said. “We can all talk in generalities about the difference an education can make but to have a scholarship recipient discuss in concrete terms the effect is impactful and engaging.”
EXCERPTS FROM FIVE ESSAY WINNERS:
Christina Mev, LSC-CyFair
“Lone Star College-CyFair has saved my life, and changed it for the better. The absolute compassion of this community college and its entire staff has encouraged an insecure teenager who didn’t know her place in this world to believe in herself again. Lone Star College-CyFair has intelligent and caring professors, challenging and relevant course selections, and a staff who truly cares about their students success. I know all of these factors contributed to my substantial growth and continued academic success at my community college. “
Sonia Parga, LSC-Kingwood
“I completed my GED in the summer of 2006 at Lone Star College and began classes that fall. It has been an extraordinary evolution. The things I have learned in my short time here have strengthened me and renewed my confidence as a creative person.”
Lori Mendel, LSC-Montgomery
“For me, attending LSC has really boosted my self-esteem and more importantly, I like the person in my mirror again. There are still many challenges ahead for me but my determination will enable me to overcome them. With each semester I will only become stronger and better equipped to handle life. College is the great equalizer; it provides the means to become whoever you wish to be. Whenever I met someone who demonstrates a skill that I admire, I make a note to consult my LSC catalog because I know there has to be a class for that!”
Richard Tovar, LSC-North Harris
“I’m proud to have one of my works on the verge of becoming a reality. If you told me that five years ago, I wouldn’t believe it. But now, I can see that community college is a significant institution that can lead you into looking inside yourself and revealing the true person within. Maybe the best thing about community college is that it’s only the beginning.”
Gabriel Culver, LSC-Tomball
“Classroom learning and good study habits aren’t the only things I will take with me from Lone Star as I continue my education. I have developed wonderful relationships with many of the professors and administrators, many of whom have written letters of recommendation to assist me in obtaining scholarships and acceptance to a university. I believe these are people with whom I will have a relationship for the remainder of my life because I had the unique opportunity of getting to know them in a smaller, more intimate environment, and they were invested in my success.”
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center @ Montgomery, LSC-University Center @ University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. With more than 62,000 students in credit classes this spring, LSCS is the second largest and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas and the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.