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Ariz Ebrat has an associate degree in nursing, is a registered nurse and a full-time student at Sacramento State. His career path is set and he is well on his way to achieving it. Ariz’s accomplishments are admirable, but what is outright inspiring is how he overcomes his extreme circumstances, follows his inner compass that always points positive, and makes a remarkable journey each day to get through school.
It’s no wonder why Ariz wanted to become a nurse. He’s essentially been one since he was 14. After his family escaped the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and migrated to America as refugees, Ariz and his mother have been trying to make a go of it, despite mom’s disabling poor health, financial difficulty, and little encouragement. In fact, Ariz was his mother’s sole caregiver throughout high school and still is.
Knowing he wanted to advocate for people like his mother, Ariz joined Sacramento City College’s (SCC) Allied Health Learning Community just two weeks after he graduated from high school (the first in his family to do so). While completing prerequisite courses, Ariz balanced his family obligations, studied, scrambled for scholarships, and worked part-time on campus as the lead student ambassador for the health learning program he had joined.
Ariz completed his general education units and attained an associate degree in nutrition and another in biology. And after volunteering at UC Davis Medical Center and observing first-hand his “dream” profession of nursing, he applied and was offered a spot in a collaborative project that helps nurses bridge the transition between SCC and Sacramento State.
Throughout it all, Ariz gives nothing but credit to the professors at SCC whom he says truly care about him and his experience, especially when life almost became too much to bear. They lent a much-needed hand when he needed it most, and were sincere in their interest in his success.
Ariz tells younger students that a college degree is the new high school diploma and so much more. The main purpose of college, he says, is to become educationally well rounded and discover a career path. He also confirms – without hesitation – if he can do it, others can too.
It’s not an overstatement to say that the SCC Music Department totally changed my life. I changed careers because being at SCC rekindled my love for music, taught me to sing and gave me the opportunity to develop my skills as a voice teacher.
Rose Shoen cannot stop encouraging those around her to consider going to community college, specifically any of the colleges within the Los Rios Community College District.
"I've been a soccer coach for 12 years," Shoen says. "And I always recommend the Los Rios district for the student athletes I work with, just because I think it's a very streamlined process. I think academically it's very structured, very clear what you'll need to transfer."
Shoen's own experience with the schools was primarily with Sacramento City College, earning an Associate Degree in Economics. Although she attended 7 different colleges, Sac City was the one where she found she had the best experience.
One of the experiences she particularly values was the Hispanic Association of College Universities (HACU) conference in Washington, DC, which she attended under Professor Sandra Camarena. The conference was a chance for Shoen to spread her wings, and learn to promote herself as a businesswoman as well as refine her academic skills.
All throughout college Shoen worked while taking classes, and she found that classes at Sac City were designed for working adults.
For example, the classes are affordable, parking passes for students are valid at all four colleges in the district, tons of scholarships are available, and classes are taught by a professor rather than a teaching assistant.
When Shoen discusses college options for her student athletes, she always highly recommends Los Rios colleges. With smaller class sizes and a myriad of resources for students, Shoen believes that the opportunities at Sac City set the foundation for her success.
"I think for a lot of people, they look at community college – especially if they come from a family where education is prioritized – and they're like, 'Oh, community college, whatever,'" Shoen says. "To be honest, I just had my son – he's 7 weeks old – I just told my husband, I really want him to consider community college when he's older."
I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for the SCC Music department. Not only did it provide me with the foundation on which to build a professional career from scratch, it was a safe environment to really explore my instrument, make mistakes, and build my confidence as a performer.
Being in the Music Department at Sac City was a huge way that I made friends – I would even say soul mates – in college, a huge component of how I found myself in college. Music really does connect you to people forever.
Susana’s plan is especially remarkable because when she graduated from high school (barely), she had no plan at all. She’s the eldest in an income insecure immigrant family, and her parents expected her to work after high school. She entertained the idea of community college only because her best friend was going, so she enrolled at SCC.
Susana’s ambitions changed when she was selected to attend the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' (HACU) Capitol Forum as a SCC representative. Each spring, SCC students at this forum lobby their elected Congressional representatives hoping to shape and promote future legislation that will benefit all students, particularly those in underserved communities. SCC is the only campus in the region to expose students to these opportunities.
Attending the HACU Capitol Forum changed Susana’s view of what she could dream and even impacted her entire family. Susana understands now that growing up in an immigrant household doesn’t predispose her to the types of jobs her parents have, and she is worthy of the opportunities offered to anyone with an education.
Now that she has her AS in Business Administration from SCC and a degree in economics at Sac State, Susana is giving back at SCC. She is working with the HSI-STEM Equity and Success Initiative Project, a federal grant made available to recognized, Hispanic-serving institutions. Her job now is to support/mentor underserved and low-income students in school by being an advocate for them and an advocate for equity.
Through education, Susana learned that her heard voice can be heard, and she can advocate for herself, her family and her community. Barraza for Congress? Why not?