When Ricky Robles first went to community college, he didn't know what he wanted to
do with his life. He was interested in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics) field, so he majored in computer science. But when he told his counselors
what he wanted to do, they tried to talk him out of it.
They told him what a long and difficult program it was, and that the success rate wasn't very high. Instead, they tried to plan out a different career path for Ricky: one as a real estate agent. But that wasn't the path he wanted for himself.
Eventually, Ricky transferred to Compton College. Suddenly, everything was different. Residing in the City of Compton, it was closer to home, which made commuting easier. More importantly, the faculty and staff were all completely supportive of his goals, and worked to help him, rather than trying to talk him out of it.
In particular, Ricky met Lorena Fonseca, a program specialist in the college's STEM Center. She helped him with all of his questions and issues, including things like financial aid, and eventually transferring to a four-year university. She helped Ricky find the path that was meant for him and helped him every step of the way.
Other professors and staff were encouraging as well. At Compton College, Ricky found not just a school, but a close-knit community. He began to explore and network, joining as many programs as he could in his first year. This included applying for financial aid. As a DREAM Act student, staff at Compton College helped him get everything he was entitled to from bus tokens for his commute, to meal vouchers, to a free calculator for his math classes.
Math ended up being Ricky's focus at Compton College. As he grappled with the question of what to do with his life, one of his professors encouraged him to become a math professor himself. Ricky found no shortage of support for his chosen career path.
Guidance counselor Carlos Maruri was of particular help. He encouraged Ricky throughout the process and told him exactly what classes he would need. And that encouragement was just the push Ricky needed.
"He gave me all this assurance," says Ricky. "Some random stranger was believing in me."
In addition to excelling in his own studies, Ricky was able to become an embedded coach in the Compton College math department, helping other students with their studies. He tutors students and helps them with math questions, both virtually and in person.
In 2019, Ricky transferred to California State University, Long Beach, where he earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics. He's now working on his master's degree and pursuing his new goal of becoming a professor. And in the meantime, he's still an embedded coach at Compton College.
To those looking to follow in his footsteps and who are considering Compton College, Ricky has this advice: "Take a tour, and talk to the people there. That's what I did." Those interactions are what made Compton College feel like more than 'just a college' for Ricky. It felt like a community. It felt like a home.