I Never Would Have Graduated. Community College Made It Happen Anyway.
Adam Hertz graduated from AACC back in 2017, but he has yet to forget the impact community college had on his education. Check out Adam's post below where he shares memories from his time at AACC.
On August 28 2017, I commuted to the University of Maryland for the first time. Having just graduated from community college with an associate's degree, I was on track to finish a bachelor's in finance. I may have been over eager to evade traffic and get a good parking spot because it was still dark when I arrived. My watch read 5 a.m., meaning my first class didn't start for another three hours. Sitting there, I began to cry. How could I possibly be at a flagship university? I never took the ACT or SAT. My GPA in high school was 2.9, and nobody in my family could afford exorbitant tuition rates.
My journey through community college began three years prior. Taking developmental math was frustrating, and my first English paper scored 60%. Clearly, I was under prepared for college level work. I quickly became acquainted with my college's writing center, which I went to three nights a week. In time, the tutors learned my name, identified my weaknesses, and coached me into being a better writer. As a result, my final English grade was 90%. For my grades overall, this was the first time in my life with straight As.
During the next semester, I learned that continuing full-time education wasn't possible. The money I saved in high school had dwindled, and nights spent closing the store caused my grades to slip. Seeing my struggle, my business professor wrote a letter of recommendation, resulting in a scholarship from the entrepreneurship department.
That year, I quit my job and became a full-time student. I found myself overly involved at the school: entrepreneurship club, honor society, and student government to name a few. My communications professor, seeing my potential, recommended me to be the student member on the board of trustees.
In this new leadership role, I witnessed first-hand the demanding work being done to turn lives around. The administration was working with a budget-per-student significantly lower than that of the public universities, even though our students required significantly more resources. Some students were parents who used the on-campus daycare. Others were older, laid off workers needing one-on-one instruction to help them re-enter the job market. Many were young high school graduates with a low GPA, nowhere else to go, and needed special tutoring (like me). The beginning of my last semester, as community college life was coming to an end, reality struck when I realized I had no way to pay for the university. I spent a month researching full-tuition scholarships, and the next three months writing scholarship essays. One night, I was the only student in the writing center, and all three tutors were sitting in a circle helping to write this essay. After going through twelve drafts with the tutors, my philosophy professor took a look. I went through five more drafts with him, submitted the essays, and crossed my fingers.
Many of my friends and family interpret my success story as an example of hard work and perseverance being rewarded. Instead, they ought to recognize the countless tutors, professors, and college staff who turned my life around. The people at Anne Arundel Community College continued to make an impact after I left. The greatest example of their impact occurred in the summer of 2017 when three universities responded to my scholarship essay with a full-ride. For these reasons, I owe them my thanks and hope to one day follow in their footsteps.