Opportunity is yours to take

J.D. RottweilerBy J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

In the midst of discussions about the annual budget, it’s easy to get excited instead about the bright light that is student success. The reality is that even when talking dollars, Cochise College’s passion remains student opportunity.

So it warms my heart to share a little bit about someone who recognizes the opportunities in our communities and who is balancing higher education and advanced high school coursework with an eye toward a career in biomedical engineering.

Angelica Calanog moved to America at the age of 9. Coming from the Philippines, she has appreciated and made the most of the resources and opportunities available here. Angelica received a scholarship to attend the Running Start program, which enrolls academically achieving high school students in college engineering courses. As of last fall, she had already earned 42 college credits and a 4.0 grade point average. She will graduate from high school in May but also was recognized recently as a member of the All-Arizona Academic Team, which awards the top Arizona community college sophomores with a waiver to attend an Arizona university. She is a member of the Science Club and has volunteered for Engineering Night, March for Mental Health, and Haunted Union. She makes solutions, gathers chemicals and scientific equipment and organizes materials as an aid in the science lab. Her objective is to prepare herself for success.

Learning to balance advanced high school work with college courses and all of her other activities has been Angelica’s biggest endeavor. How does she do it? Let’s just say she’s learned a great deal about what to expect from the college experience, time management, and her own strengths. I like to think the donor whose contribution helped fund the Running Start program – the late Margaret Kent of Bisbee – would be proud that the investment she made in Cochise College has opened doors for Angelica and others.

Participants in a recent 50th birthday party for the Cochise College Foundation learned some other things about Angelica, who was invited to speak to employees. She wants to pursue a doctoral degree so she can perform research and develop devices to assist those who have an injury, disease or defect, and she’d like to offer this service at no cost. Before she takes the next step, however, she wants to check out cybersecurity. In her free time, she runs. Part of the reason she applies for scholarships is that she doesn’t want to burden her family with the cost of college when it is within her power to earn money to help herself.

I almost wanted to adopt her!

There’s something students and parents should know, however, and that is that opportunities here at Cochise College aren’t just for super-students like Angelica. They’re also not limited to the classroom. You don’t have to earn top grades to take advantage of what’s here in your backyard. You just have to do what many think of as the hardest part, and that is to commit to your future and take the first step of enrolling. Once you’re here, the team at the college can help you decide on a major, apply for financial aid and scholarships, tackle library and tutoring resources, connect with peers who share your interests, and explore opportunities to enhance your educational experience. Students who make a commitment to invest time in themselves are the ones with the greatest chance of success.

There’s a scene in the 2005 movie “The Family Stone” when one character expresses to another a desire to see public art and a community’s reaction to it. Her response perfectly characterizes the opportunities at Cochise College.

“Well, it’s there for you.”

That means all of you.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at jdr@cochise.edu.