Success Stories

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    Kalli Walkinghawk
    Kalli Walkinghawk

    Kalli Walkinghawk is a theater/dance student at Mendocino College who has just been accepted into San Francisco State’s Fine Arts bachelor’s degree program. She also recently landed a role as an extra in the HBO special Sharp Objects. “My experience here at Mendocino College has been really great so far…I think all the teachers here at Mendocino College want to see me succeed.”

    Kalli was born in Santa Rosa and is originally from Marin County near San Francisco. She and her two siblings were raised by her mother, who was single and struggled financially most of their childhood. Kalli is inspired by her mother and her ability to always keep moving forward regardless of the hardships she faces. She describes her mother as a kind and giving woman who “gives, gives, gives, and that’s all she does…she just loves her kids to death”.

    Kalli has struggled to continue her education due to financial hardships, which is why she was so thrilled to win a scholarship from San Francisco State College of Liberal and Creative Arts for $1,000 as well as a scholarship from Mendocino College. The honors will relieve some of her financial stress and allow her to focus more on her education. 

    Kalli describes herself as a “very goofy, creative, girl who likes to make bird calls, I’m kind of shy and quiet and silly”. Kalli loves swimming, dance, IN-N-OUT burgers, and shakes, especially mint chocolate chip shakes! “Give me a burger and a milkshake and let me eat it outdoors”, she says, “and I will be a happy girl!” Staying fit and active is very important to Kalli and she finds that exercise is a good stress relief for her. She was even featured in a Gymboree book as a child. Kalli acknowledges dance and nature for keeping her balanced.

    Kalli attended the San Francisco Ballet School for four years, but due to the high cost of living, she and her family moved to Lake County when she was sixteen. She continued taking dance classes at Kelseyville High School and in the summer of 2012, after her junior year, she attended a summer intensive, two-week program in Valencia called California State Summer School for the Arts. “This experience taught me how valuable dance is to me. I found that I was yearning for that same type of training that I received when attending San Francisco Ballet School.” 

    Kalli credits her Mendocino College fellow classmates, instructors, and counselors as her supporters that inspired her and instilled in her the desire to never give up on her dreams. She is very proud of her good grades and for the fact that she has made it this far in her education. In the future, after obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Kalli hopes to earn a Masters of Fine Arts Degree and pursue a career in teaching dance, specifically ballet, so that she can share her passion through teaching.

    Kalli’s favorite quote is by Alonzo King, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul”. She describes dance as, “important to society and our culture…a way of communicating a story…there’s a lot you can portray”. Her advice for other students is, “When you think you want to give up, don’t give up…your hard work will be rewarded…as for aspiring dancers, practice every single day, keep practicing”.

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    Nayeli Castaneda
    Nayeli Castaneda

    Nayeli was a single mother living in the Bay Area, with expensive living costs. She was a part-time student and found it difficult to raise her daughter and still go to college. Soon, Nayeli decided it was time for her to move to a smaller more affordable area.  Nayeli knew she wanted to receive a great education, and began looking into new places to move.  With some help from her counselor at Marin, she was introduced to Mendocino College. Before she made her decision to relocate to Ukiah, she took a summer class to get a feel for the college. It was a summer math class with Mike Padilla and Nayeli loved the experience she had.  Nayeli was then connected to Alicia Mendoza a C.A.M.P counselor, who discussed the various programs the college offered.  The decision was easy after this experience, Nayeli decided she was going to Mendocino College.

    Nayeli started her journey by establishing a plan for her education. Nayeli’s big inspiration was her grandfather, as he was the first to introduce her to the medical field. Her grandfather serves as an Emergency Medical Technician in Mexico. Also during her junior year in high school Nayeli had a great opportunity to obtain her Medical Assistant Certificate and had an internship at Kaiser Permanente. Her final decision was to study in the field of science, with a focus on Allied Health. Nayeli is preparing to apply for the Nursing Program, and is currently taking all the prerequisites necessary to apply.

    Nayeli has been a raising a child and working as a student worker to pay her way to acquire her degree. Nayeli was able to enroll her daughter in the Child Development Center on the Ukiah campus. This has been a great resource for Nayeli as she has been able to have her daughter so close to her while at school and at work. This program allowed Nayeli to be a full-time student while in pursuit of her degree, with reliable daycare.

    Nayeli is grateful for all the support she has received from the faculty, staff and students in her last two years at Mendocino College. They have been very helpful in her success as a student. Having her daughter in “one of the best Child Development Center's” allowed her to be more comfortable knowing her daughter was only a quick walk away.

    Being a new student and not knowing anyone, Nayeli took advantage of the 'Clubs Day' Mendocino has each fall semester, and joined a few clubs.  As a member of various clubs, she familiarized herself with a lot of people that  helped her become the student she is. Every summer the MESA Club, which Nayeli is a member, takes a trip to Point Arena to have a summer science campout.  It was at this event that her club mates encouraged her to be part the student government. Being part the student senate has opened up so many doors for Nayeli in her educational career. She has had the opportunity to work alongside many professionals that have unique stories and have inspired her to keep achieving her dreams.

    Nayeli sees Mendocino College more than just a community college. She sees it as a second home that has helped her grow as a person, expanded her horizons, and a great place that has connected her with amazing companions. During her years at Mendocino College she has met very influential people, from students who are now faculty and staff to administrators who have guided her through.  She has truly been shown that “with persistence and perseverance there is no set limits to our potential as students.”  Nayeli wants to thank all those who have helped her grow and succeed in achieving her goals.

    Nayeli is now a path to graduate from Mendocino College and transfer to Sacramento State University where she plans to get her Bachelor's of Science in Community Health Education, a concentration of their Health Science Program.  Her hope is to then eventually apply for UC Davis's Masters of Health Services program and become a part of their Physician's Assistant Degree Program as she was able to take some of the program pre-requisites here at Mendocino College.  Her goal is to one day lead a team of Health Care Professionals and serve underrepresented communities.

    She leaves some advice for future students:  "Expose yourself and do things you normally would not do, be involved in student life by joining a club, and take on roles that get you out of your normal routine and allow you to open up. Get to know the staff and faculty, they are truly dedicated to students and are here to support your success. Look into all the resources that are offered to the students and use them to your benefit.  Most importantly, make sure that you make time for yourself and do the things you enjoy."

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    Jose picture
    Jose picture

    Jose Gallegos Ruiz is an outstanding student who finished his first year at Mendocino College with a 4.0. He is proud of his hard work and is grateful for the support of his parents and the Mendocino College staff who helped him along the way.

    Jose was born in Jalisco, Mexico. His father lived in Ukiah, CA for over 20 years before Jose and the rest of his family joined him in the U.S. to seek better opportunities in education. During his first year in College, Jose was forced to overcome feelings about his sense of belonging. Many people he knew, including his parents, had no more than a fifth-grade education. For Jose, it was very challenging to step out of his comfort zone and find the tools and support he needed to progress. One of the biggest challenges for Jose was learning to speak English. He spoke zero English when he first arrived to the U.S. as a freshman in High School and in the beginning, had to have classmates translate lectures for him. He didn't have many friends and often felt very alone.

    Jose began his educational career at Mendocino College in the fall of 2016 and originally planned to major in Spanish. After taking a few classes in Mexican/American history, he decided to add a second major in Chicano Studies to his educational plan. He is part of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and during his first year, Jose says the program provided him the assistance, guidance, and academic support that helped him succeed and get him to where he is today. He feels fortunate to be one of the seven interns selected to spend the summer of 2017 in Washington DC where he worked at the Office of Migrant Education in the U.S Department of Education. He was part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) National Association and was able to attend briefings and hearings on Capitol Hill. Jose is now a CAMP/ FYI student mentor in the Mendocino College Dreamer Center and loves being able to give back to the program that offered him so much during his first year. Jose praises the friendly and helpful Mendocino College EOPS team, counselors, and financial aid employees, and highly recommends their support to students, especially those in their first-year of college.

    Watching his parents work so hard to provide for him and his two siblings was what inspired Jose to attend college. Their hard work continues to motivate him every day and keeps him moving forward with his educational goals. When Jose shares his educational successes with his parents he says he can see happiness in their eyes because they know their hard work is paying off. He laughingly admits that after one class he can go home feeling worn-out and drained, while his work from dawn until dusk and never seem to get tired.  

    Jose plans to graduate from Mendocino College in the spring of 2018 with an associates degree in both Spanish for Native Speakers and Ethnic Studies. He hopes to double major in the two disciplines at UC Davis to complete his bachelor’s degree. After completing his undergraduate degree, Jose says he may pursue a Master's in Education Policies or Spanish.  He would like to eventually work in the field of education, because he believes that education is the key to success. 

    Every day on campus creates a new memory for Jose. He says he doesn't really understand why some students dislike school, "There is always something new. You never know who you are going to talk to or where that will lead in another five years. You never know if the person you will talk to today will end up being your boss or if you will end up being his boss. It could be where you meet your future wife or your future husband. You just never know. College is a unique experience and students should take advantage of that. Try to make as many memories as possible." He encourages others to work hard, never give up, and always ask for help.

     

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    Rosa Peredia
    Rosa Peredia

    Rosa Peredia is a very hardworking and focused individual who commits wholeheartedly to each endeavor she undertakes.  She is a World Languages: Spanish for Native speakers major and plans a career in supporting those affected by the criminal justice system.  During her time at Mendocino College, she pursued and secured an internship at the local courthouse allowing her the opportunity to understand her career choice in practice. Rosa is extremely intelligent and resourceful.  She has been able to successfully navigate obstacles while making the most out of her coursework. After only two semesters in college, Rosa became eligible to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor society; not an easy feat for a first generation college student.  In addition, Rosa’s commitment to her family is a testament to her compassion and sense of loyalty.  She is helping guide her younger sister through high school and setting a positive example.  First generation college students often need to provide financial support for their families, despite their full time status in college.   Rosa does this without complaint or hesitation.  Today, Rosa is a student mentor, helping other CAMP students successfully navigate their first year of college.  It is this work ethic that lead to her acceptance at three universities for transfer; she will be attending CSU Bernardino in the Fall of 2016.