By: Berkeley College student Rebecca Aguilera, Marketing Communications
My senior year of high school, I had all my plans made up for after graduation. As a first-generation college student, I would attend a university that was close to home with a strategic leadership program. There, I would obtain my Bachelor’s in Marketing. Little did I know, I would visit New York in December of my senior year on a DECA business trip that changed my whole life. DECA is an association of marketing students that allows emerging leaders in high school to travel, compete, and learn about the business world. While on that DECA trip, I found out about Berkeley College. At the time, I thought it would be absolutely crazy and an impossible dream to go to school in New York. While interviewing the Admissions representative to write a blog for DECA Inc., I told myself “Just take the business card and think about it”. I went back home to Arkansas and two months later decided to give Berkeley a try and just apply. Then, just two years ago, I found out that I was accepted and would receive a scholarship as an active DECA student.
Fast forward a year and half later, and I have never looked back! I have never once felt like I should have stayed in Arkansas. Berkeley has given me so many opportunities to grow, not only as a Marketing Communications Major, but as a student, leader, and into a maturing adult. When I moved to New York, I was very nervous as a girl coming from down south and not having anyone that I knew around me. I wondered to myself how was I going to fit in on campus. On move in day, I met so many Berkeley administrators that immediately made me feel at home. I will never forget Dr. Dallas Reed welcoming me to Berkeley and then making me laugh in my very sad moment of telling my parents goodbye. Although it was hard in the beginning to be so far away from home, I gained a new family. From Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith on Orientation day, to Dean Sherrille Shabazz and my COO Ted Havelka during the first couple of weeks of classes supporting everyone in their transition to college, I felt the support system behind me every step of the way.
In my time at Berkeley, I have had the opportunity to hold many position on campus, such as a Resident Assistant, Leadership Coordinator for the Berkeley Emerging Leader Program, Student Government Association President, and President of the Berkeley College Collegiate DECA Chapter. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to Albany and Puerto Rico to represent the Hispanic student population for Berkeley College at the SOMOS El Futuro Conferences. These conferences opened my eyes as a student from out of state to meet New York legislation and broaden my network circle. I also had the opportunity to represent the student population at Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith’s Inauguration. I was honored when I was asked to be the representative for all 8,000 Berkeley students.
Berkeley has made me the leader I am today, giving me confidence and courage to stand out from the crowd, and appreciate the many opportunities that have been given to me. I can honestly say my college experience has been one that I will never forget. It was a dream to go to school in New York when the opportunity arose, but now is my reality every day that I go to a college that support their students 100%.