CAC: The Last Frontier

Socorro Carrillo, Cactus Editor

Approximately two years ago I was in a high school classroom stressing about a very unsure and cloudy future. It was April, I didn’t take my SAT, my GPA was absolutely awful and I’m pretty sure I thought I was dying. Needless to say a mountain of circumstance was quickly rendering me future-less. I was unsure of the road ahead, I knew I wanted to succeed but I wasn’t sure how exactly it would be done.

However, a shining copper palace of academia soon rose up across the parking lot from Wal-Mart. The copper utopia was of course CAC’s Maricopa campus. To be completely transparent I was one of those people who looked down on community college. Community college originally seemed like the place where adults over 65 go to learn Spanish or pottery. Not the place where I would serve as Student Leadership Organization President SLO, speak to congressmen on the behalf of the college, piece together a newspaper, work as a student-worker in the library, and most surprising of all travel to China for 5 months of study!

I certainly wasn’t prepared for the depth of opportunities that awaited me as I didn’t expect them. I started classes at CAC with one goal in mind. I was going to take classes and hopefully transfer in two years. My mind had an end goal and I was going to reach it without any distractions. This was all well and good until I actually started my classes. On the first Monday of the fall semester I sat down in the front row of my intercultural communications class ready to be a diligent student. I had read some time ago that statistically speaking, students who sat front and center were more likely to earn A’s. With this in mind I took my seat ready to ace the course until a firecracker that I will always treasure named Ruth Butler shattered my expectations and sense of purpose. She had the entire class get up and turn our neat and orderly rows into haphazard pentagon shaped groups. Instead of sitting in my precious front row I was now sitting with the most diverse group of people I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. This is what I’d like to mark as the pivotal moment in my life where I realized community college was going to be simply awesome. Day in and day out all of my professors challenged me to be better, smarter, and open minded. Even the professors I wasn’t so fond of helped me to learn something I didn’t know before.

Although the classes were my initial love at CAC, they aren’t the best thing about it. It’s the student life. The Maricopa campus isn’t as bustling as the Signal Peak campus but for being one of the younger children of the CAC family it does have character. It’s a character that my friends and colleagues have helped build. When I first began attending the Maricopa campus it was brand new. Nothing in terms of student life had been established. I hadn’t initially wanted to be a part of the establishing–remember that aforementioned goal? However, I was quickly wrangled in with the idea of unbroken ground. I applied to become an SLO member and somehow wound up becoming President. The first semester was rough as it was only me and three other students who didn’t know what they were doing either. However by spring, SLO rose anew with four new students at the helm. We quickly got to work, planning events, coming up with service projects, and reaching out to more students. While not all of our events were successful we had a blast bringing our ideas to life even if only two or three students outside of SLO enjoyed them. Although SLO was a great place to be and contained the greatest people in the universe who I now call friends, it didn’t satiate my thirst for doing. By chance or by fate you can decide, I found myself writing for the student newspaper The Cactus, which was a whole other experience in itself. Eventually I grabbed my right hand man (woman) Melissa and we began truly establishing a productive branch of the Cactus at Maricopa. Between the Cactus and SLO and a couple of other insanely cool opportunities, CAC had become more than I ever expected college to be and it was only a 20 minute drive from my home.

The lesson I’ll keep with me throughout life is to never judge something at face value. I was so sure of this experience; I was absolutely ready to get through these two years with my head down. CAC felt like the last frontier, there was so much that I didn’t know and didn’t expect. Instead, I found myself picking up every opportunity available, excelling academically, and growing fonder and fonder of green and yellow paired together. CAC is truly the place where potential can be cultivated into success and growth. I’ll miss it dearly but I also know I wouldn’t be going to the places I’m headed without it. ASU is where I’ll be in the fall but CAC will always have my heart. Congratulations Class of 2015!d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);