Future businessman Diego Zaragoza recently shared how his Lone Star College-CyFair experience was his “redemption ticket” to academic success.
Zaragoza, along with five other Lone Star College System student essay winners, inspired guests with their stories of “How My Community College Experience Changed My Life,” which were shared at the Lone Star College Foundation’s 24th annual Chancellor’s Breakfast.
After graduating high school with the minimum requirements in Boliva and in the midst of family instability and personal upheaval, Zaragoza’s grandfather gave him the opportunity of a lifetime - to move to Houston to start his higher education journey. With a promise to himself to conquer his limitations, this international student enrolled at LSC-CyFair and found patient faculty, helpful tutors and supportive friends and counselors.
Zaragoza began college in remedial math and English classes with low self-esteem and is now a student ambassador, involved in Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and confident in himself.
“I was very fortunate to have found a family in Student Life,” he said. “Being involved on campus was just what I needed; it led me to step out of my comfort zone. I became Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association and was able to help other students with their concerns. I was not only succeeding academically, but also learning how to believe in myself.”
As he improved academically, he took time to give back as a tutor in the Academic Success Center, serving as a role model for other students that they can succeed, too.
Christopher Dudley, current LSC-Fairbanks Center Director of Student Services and former Student Ambassador Program Coordinator, said Zaragoza is the type of student he envisioned working with when he began his career in higher education.
“Eager, curious, persistent, humble, and tenacious are characteristics that come to mind when I think about Diego,” said Christopher Dudley, former Student Ambassador Program Coordinator. “He seeks growth in all facets of his life and accepts every opportunity presented to him as a chance to learn more.”
Dr. Blake Ellis, Phi Theta Kappa advisor, said Zaragoza exemplifies what it means to be a successful community college student.
“He holds himself to high academic standards while also contributing back to the college through service,” said Dr. Ellis. “He is a student leader who embraces diversity and models an inclusive approach to learning. We are all excited to see where his future leads him.”
Zaragoza, who plans to transfer to the University of Houston after graduating this spring with an associate of business degree, said college is what one makes of it.
“LSC-CyFair was not a place to just take classes and leave,” he said. “It was a second chance, an opportunity to change and grow and it completely changed my life.”
Receiving a $1,000 scholarship from the LSC Foundation and representing each of the six LSCS colleges were Zaragoza from LSC-CyFair, Alexis Duke from LSC-Kingwood, Chelsea Nail from LSC-Montgomery, Jessica Tovias from LSC-North Harris, Janeth Del Carmen Castellanos from LSC-Tomball, and Bianca Bravo from LSC-University Park.
These scholarships are made possible due to the generosity of LSC Foundation donors and supporters. The LSC Foundation manages assets of $23 million, with $14 million committed to endowed scholarships.