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Winning Essay Tells a Story of Triumph

English is not Karen Martinez's native tongue and yet her essay on how a community college education has shaped her life won her a $1,000 scholarship.

Each year the Lone Star College System Foundation holds an essay contest where students are invited to write on the prompt, "How My Community College Experience Has Influenced My Life."  One winner from each Lone Star College campus is chosen.

When she married her husband, a native Houstonian, and moved to the United States from Mexico, she not only struggled with the language, but also with sadness at leaving everything familiar behind.  She enrolled in Dr. Masoud Shafiei's ESOL class at LSC-Kingwood.  There her instructors encouraged her to master the language so that she could take the THEA test and go on to take college courses.

"Even though it was a lot of material covered in a short period of time, Dr. Shafiei was able to cover everything, which helped me pass the THEA test," she says.

Her next hurdle was to overcome her distaste for math.  Again, through the diligent persistence and encouragement of her LSC-Kingwood instructor, she conquered her fear of math.

In her essay, she sums it up this way, "Two years ago when I was in my native country, if someone would have asked me what I hated the most in school, I would have said "Foreign language and math."  I never would have imagined that I would end up living in the United States learning a new language and excelling at math."

She's come a long way and says her professors were the key to her success.  "I would like to mention that professor Stephanie Doyen has been greatly motivating to me.  Also, both Dr. Shafiei and Rosemarie Goss in ESL encouraged me to learn more about the language.  I have found excellent professors at LSC-Kingwood, all well prepared and even though it has not been easy at all, they have pushed me to challenge myself."

Martinez will continue her studies at LSC-Kingwood, applying to the college's dental hygiene program.  After securing her dental hygiene degree from LSC-Kingwood, she hopes to continue her studies at the University of Texas.

For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600.

Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas.