The hardest part about being a student is finding a support system. To succeed, students have to find inspiration in themselves, and then they need to spread that out to their community so we can all thrive. But often what I find is that students in Contra Costa County don’t receive the encouragement they need to finish their degrees.
For years I was one of those kids that didn’t care about their education. I just complained about everything — classes were too hard, teachers didn't care about me. I wasn’t engaged, and in my sophomore year of high school I got straight F’s. During this time I realized that I was expecting someone to be there and tell me to do good and work hard. But there never was that person.
I eventually got tired of slacking off. I started asking myself why I was spending every day at school if I wasn’t doing anything. I felt like a loser. I decided to take the initiative to not be that student who just complained without working to change the situation. I realized that I’m smarter than that, and that I want to work hard for myself since no one else cares about my future.
I see now that my education is for me. My schoolwork is about me representing myself. I know now that I’m not someone who just slacks off and lets life slip by. I started getting straight A’s once I started thinking about my education as something that I was in control of and once I started applying myself.
Then, after I graduated high school, I started working at a minimum wage job in town. Quickly I found out was that I didn’t like working that hard for just $8.00 an hour. I knew I was better than that. I was good at studying, and I wasn’t living up to my full potential by just working. I realized that I could make a better future for myself if I pursued higher education.
And so I signed up for Contra Costa College. One of my friends was the president of the Contra Costa College Student Government at the time, and he invited me to join. The community that I found in this student government changed my educational career. For the first time in my life I had a network of people supporting me. Now, I’m the president of the CCC Student Government, and I’m looking to spread the support that I received.
Looking around my community, I know that many students need more help than they’re given. The experience I had early in high school is shared among many in my college. I come from a poor background in Richmond, and a lot of my friends grew up in low income families. I saw a lot of people drop out of school because they needed to work, or they didn’t feel like college was worth their time. I want to show these kids that pursuing their education is worth it, but that it takes determination and support to work through these struggles.
College is the chance for these students to carve a path towards a successful career. Between the pulls of work, family, and life, the importance of this education can be forgotten. Broadening students’ network of support — and providing them with the help they need — will enable CCC students to succeed. What they first have to do is dream big and believe that they can excel. Once they find the inspiration in themselves, they will be able to join the community and thrive.
By: Antone Agnitsch, President, Contra Costa College Student Government