Waubonsee Community College provides opportunities to people with diverse backgrounds from across the region, as well as from around the world. One of those people is Victoria Garcia, Waubonsee’s Student Success: Featured Student.
Garcia grew up in Venezuela with her parents and older brother. Though she did finish high school, she knew that she would not have much opportunity to go to college because of the economic challenges and the physical dangers of the country. Despite these challenges, though, she was selected to participate in a student exchange program that brought her to Aurora to attend West Aurora High School for a year in 2015-2016.
“I just requested to go to America. I didn’t get a choice of city or state. I ended up here, but I am glad about that,” said Garcia.
During that year at West Aurora, Garcia stayed with a host family that is part of a local Rotary Club. That family connection altered Garcia’s path dramatically and permanently. In that year, she was exposed to many things that would have been impossible for her to experience in her home country. In addition to experiencing life in America, she met several other families involved in the Rotary Club. After that school year ended, Garcia returned home to Venezuela wanting to come back to America but realizing it would probably take a few years to do so.
Just a few weeks after she returned home, though, one of her host families from Aurora called her to see if she wanted to come back to America sooner than she thought possible. The families here who got to know her during that exchange year came together and agreed to help Garcia return to Aurora and attend college at Waubonsee. After overcoming many obstacles that summer, Garcia returned to Aurora on August 20, 2017; the day before classes started at Waubonsee.
“I didn’t know what to expect [of the college experience here], but I’ve enjoyed it very much. Because of my exchange year, it’s not been that hard to get adjusted,” she said.
She has now finished her first year of college studying biology with an eye towards studying medicine. Thanks to the support and help of her host families, she will be able to stay this summer to take classes, as well as stay through next year in order to graduate from Waubonsee.
Though she misses her family, she has found that it helps to stay busy; something that she has no problem doing.
Garcia has some advice for anyone starting college, regardless of where they are from or what their background is: “If you organize yourself and manage your time, you can do well here. College is fun. There is so much diversity here. Professors are interested in your learning and the advisors are great.”