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Are you in high school wondering what your next move should be after graduation? Maybe you’re currently applying for university or trying to snag your dream internship? Perhaps you’ve been out of school for a little while but now you’re trying to decide whether to go back? If any of that sounds like you, keep reading.

Today we’re talking to Glorimar, a Venzulean immigrant who’s attending Columbia University after transferring from LaGuardia Community College. Keep reading to get Gary’s take on her journey and his advice for anyone in a similar position. 

Community College

Glorimar finished a nursing degree in her home country of Venezuela, community college in the United States, and is currently in her third year at Columbia University. She’s also Glorian’s older sister.

Describe your relationship with school.

“I’ve always been a school person. Ever since I was little. I always did my homework and my mom never had to check because I always did what I had to do.”

“In my family, everyone went to school. Out of my grandmother’s six children, only one of them doesn’t have a college degree. 

I went to nursing school because my mom was a nurse and she thought I would be good at it. After one semester, I knew it wasn’t for me but by that time I was determined to leave the country anyway, due to the social and political issues Venezuela is currently experiencing. 

Once I got to the US, I knew I was going to go back to school eventually. So I went to Laguardia Community College and then transferred to Columbia University. 

Is it possible to be successful in Venezuela without a college degree?

It’s possible to be successful in Venezuela without a college degree. My dad is an entrepreneur and my brothers work for him–but it was very important to my mother’s side of the family because education took her away from her really poor village.  There were no roads in her village. After school, she became chief nurse of all the hospitals in Caracas. 

That was just our mindset, we go to school because that’s how we advance in life. 

What are you studying now?

“I feel like my major isn’t super desirable for employers. I take classes like ‘the craft of dialog’ and ‘south african culture’  so I started to include classes like communications management and management for stable income. But, what I’m studying is really helping me to be what I want to be, which is a great writer.” 

Without college I would probably read and write a lot, in order to become a renowned writer. But I’m not really a self starter so college is really helpful. I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone but for me, I don’t know any other way to be successful. Plus, I love school. 

When I tell people I’m going to pay 100k for a creative writing degree, they might say “Oh, what’s wrong with you.” But nothing will change. I love it. It aligns with my goals. 

What are you paying for when you pay for college?

I’m paying to showcase my skills and my story. I have a cool story and I’ve completed a lot, this degree shows that. The experience, the learning…plus my English has improved so much. My first day at Laguardia [Community College] I was so impressed by how articulate the teachers were. I would think, wow I want to talk like that someday. Not without an accent, but by expressing myself so clearly. 

I’m exposing myself to so much knowledge, and connections. Up until now, I can’t say that the connections have helped me find a job, but I think they will. Even puting Columbia on my resume for babysitting jobs is really helpful. 

Has Covid changed your mind about school or education?

Columbia is helping students like me so much. It makes me feel they’ll also work hard to help me get a job. 

At first, I didn’t want to go because I didn’t feel safe with Covid, but the administration is helpful. I don’t mind online classes because my courses are mostly seminars and lectures. It might be different if I was still doing a nursing program. 

This is an opportunity because Columbia isn’t charging as much as they usually would. They’re waiving or reducing fees like student life or library and printing. The only thing between me and my degree is money. I plan to take as many classes as I can.

Compare LaGuardia Community College with Columbia University.

It’s absolutely different. The professors at Laguardia are good but Columbia is much more rigorous. What I read at Laguardia for one semester is one week at Columbia–but I would never have made it to Columbia without LaGuardia.
“I would recommend community college for anybody  that needs a solid foundation. Especially for a student like me that never had college level education in English. 

How did you pay for college?

I knew I was going to transfer so I began to save when I first entered Laguardia. I was a bartender so I was able to save a lot of money in just two years. Most of my savings went to Columbia in the first semester, afterward I had a scholarship which helped me pay for college. My scholarship increases as long as your GPA is good. My GPA is a 3.9 so my scholarship keeps going up, which is important because I am paying for college completely on my own. 

Final Thoughts?

“I’m studying because I like it. I already spent three years studying something I was not passionate about. I have a degree in something practical. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what if? Have balls to follow your dreams, and don’t let people bring you down, especially people who can’t relate to your experience. 

Be careful who you listen to. People who I did not admire, the managers at my job that have been there for 20 years and HATED it, they’re the ones who told me not to pursue my passion. People who I considered successful, people who seemed happy, they told me to go for it.