Mark Sandoval was used to being invisible. He had gone to two community colleges and thought he knew the routine pretty well.
“My previous experience with college is that they treat you like a number,” says Mark. “If you have a problem you just have to figure it out.”
When he enrolled in the Business Administration program at SJVC’s Hanford campus, he was about to find out that instructors there were a different breed, and their teaching style was a lot more collaborative. Still, old habits die hard.
“I was leery, in my own shell and didn’t want to talk with anybody,” he says. “It took me a long time to open up.”
Raul Ponce, Mark’s B.A. instructor, slowly drew him out. “Initially, Mark would always do his work by himself and rarely asked questions,” says Mr. Ponce. “After several months Mark began opening up to me and his classmates, came out of his shell and became quite the presenter,” he says.
Mr. Ponce worked with Mark to bring out his artistic side and helped him to discover, not only his talent for making computer videos, but graphic design and website construction. Mark’s emerging talents gave him more confidence, and he began to share his skills and help other students with projects.
“It was awesome that he encouraged me to do that; and Mr. Ponce told me about graphic design in the business world,” says Mark. “It made me want to be more involved and do more things.”
Although Mark was originally interested in enrolling in a computer program, he decided that a Business Administration degree would open more doors for him in the business world. At 28 years old, he had spent a few years in retail sales, swimming pool service (“I kept a lot of people from blowing up their pools with too much chlorine.”) and fixing game consoles.
It was his sister, Monique, who persuaded him to try college again. She was interested in the Medical Assisting program at SJVC and dragged Mark along to explore his career possibilities. They both enrolled that day.
Mark had two very good reasons to make that commitment to get his degree.
“My motivation was to better myself by getting a degree and to help take care of my parents.” It doesn’t stop there. “I want to be the first person in my family to get a PhD,” he says.
Mark will start on that path by focusing on a career in accounting. “I really like accounting,” he says. “I like the idea of problem-solving and with accounting, if there’s a problem, you can figure it out.”
This has been a year of discovery for Mark. Not only has he discovered unknown talents, a new direction for himself and eased out of his solitary mode, he has realized he likes interacting with people.
“We did a lot of group work and had to sit next to different people all the time,” says Mark. “I came to like it for the fact that there was no one to judge me; they all were there for the same thing.”
It all came together for Mark when he and Monique walked across the stage at graduation this January. They had both excelled in their programs and were recognized for their achievements.
“We were up on the stage together and it was awesome,” says Mark. “It was a great night for our family and our parents were very proud, very happy.”
Mark’s new goal is to one day walk in the shoes of his favorite teacher, Mr. Ponce. “If I could learn how to be successful in the business world, then I can teach others how to become successful,” says Mark. “I would do it the way Mr. Ponce does it; interact with students, get to know them. He got me out of my shell.”
Mark is already an example of his first point of instruction:
“To be successful: 1) Have a great education, 2) Be open-minded to ideas and opportunities to invest in yourself.”
The rest will come naturally.