While attending San Marcos High School, Daniel Apodaca considered himself the stereotypical delinquent student, cutting class and hanging out with the “wrong crowd.” Despite this, he managed to get his high school diploma.
Daniel decided to set some goals for his future, starting with enrollment at Santa Barbara City College. Working hard and engaging with campus resources such as after class tutoring, Daniel began to excel in his course work. He became interested in science and is now a molecular environmental biology major with plans to attend medical school. This year, Daniel received the President’s Scholarship, the SBCC Foundation’s most prestigious award, and is set to transfer to UC Berkeley in the spring. “It’s unbelievable,” said Daniel. “I would have fallen through the cracks if it wasn’t for this school.”
When Daniel first started at SBCC, his only reference for being a “model student” came from shows he had seen on TV. He simply began to work hard, and over time, fell in love with education. Daniel credits his hard work, and the quality of professors teaching at SBCC, to his success. “I could tell my chemistry and biology professors loved teaching, and their positive energy was infectious,” said Daniel. “I really started at the bottom – no experience, low level assessments – and now have defined a clear path for my future. To think about where I started, and what I’ve become, really blows my mind.”
For his educational accomplishments, Daniel received the SBCC Foundation President’s Scholarship, a $10,000 award given over the course of two years to a student transferring to a four-year university. Daniel will use the award as he completes his junior and senior years at UC Berkeley. “I was with my friends when I found out I had received the award and we all jumped up and hugged,” said Daniel. “It was an awesome feeling, and definitely a highlight of my time at SBCC.”
Today, Daniel is setting the trend toward education for the younger generation in his family. The inspiration he has become for his younger siblings and nephews continues to motivate him along the way. “Younger members of my family are now considering college as an option. Because of me, that option is normal,” said Daniel. “For many students, going to certain colleges is part of a tradition or legacy in their families. But for me, I have started the legacy of education in my family.”
SBCC remains a transformative period in Daniel’s life, one he will never forget. “It has been an incredible journey – just trying to become the best version of myself that I can be,” said Daniel. “One day I just chose to go to school, and enrolled in my local community college, which just happened to be a world-class institution right in my own backyard. I worked really hard, but without SBCC, I would not be where I am today.”
Author: Jessica Tade