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Tehachapi Student Spotlight: Karina Valadez, class of 2023

Cerro Coso's Coyote Corner

For our March Student Spotlight, we are showcasing Karina Valadez. Originally from Mojave, Karina is graduating from Tehachapi High School, Class of 2023, with not only her high school diploma, but also with three Associate Degrees: AS-T in Business Administration, AA in Liberal Arts: Arts & Humanities and AA in Liberal Arts: Social & Behavioral Science.

While attending high school and Cerro Coso College, she was in Phi Theta Kappa, worked part-time and is very engaged in her family life. She plans on transferring to California State University of Bakersfield and will major in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a business law degree.

On top of her achievements, Karina is a proud first-generation college student and first-generation Mexican American. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Let's get to know Karina's story.

"I grew up in Mojave and moved to Tehachapi about two years ago. The transition was hard. When I moved, I had to start from scratch. To make it worse, my freshman year was when COVID started, and I did the first two years of high school online. In-person school started my junior year. It was like being a real freshman this time. I had to get used to a new town and new high school. It was a lot. The school was significantly bigger. It was a big change in environment, students, teachers, overall so much change and adjustment. It wasn't necessarily bad, it was just a lot of change at once."

What helped you get through that?

"College was my constant. Change is a challenge, especially for a young person. Dealing with the emotions and all the adjustments, college helped so much with that. School helped me calm down, and not freak out. It really helped me deal with the change."

What inspired you to start Cerro Coso classes while in high school?

"I was inspired to start in high school because I heard of all the benefits. In Mojave, a counselor told me about doing college classes and that it would take two years off at any university. This means I could finish my bachelor's and master's faster, and be younger when I start working. And also take some of the financial pressure off my parents. I hadn't heard of anyone finishing their AA in high school before, but the counselor told me I could do it, so I signed up!

"CC influenced my life in many ways, one of them by demonstrating to me that this can be done and supporting me in this journey. CC has an environment that is open to creativity, new experiences and helping students like me to further their education."

What do you plan to do after finishing your law degree?

"I want to own businesses, like restaurants and coffee shops, and also work in corporate law."

Would you like to give a shout out to anyone? Maybe someone who helped you during your CC journey?

"I would like to give a thank you to my parents for everything they have done for me, and a shout out to all the CC staff, especially their counselors. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have come this far in my education journey. They have helped me in every step, whether it was which classes to choose from or if I needed any help in those classes, they always provided me with the necessities to pass."

Do you have any words of wisdom for current or future CC students?

"Some advice I wish I heard earlier on my education journey at CC is: Life, in general, is hard. We all have our own problems, but furthering your education in any way is something incredible, and don't be afraid to keep going, even when it is hard."

And last question, what is your passion in life?

"I really want to do what makes me happy. And I want to make my parents proud."

Thank you for sharing your story with us Karina. Good luck in all your endeavors!