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Student Spotlights

Texas Senator Larry Taylor, U.S. Congressman Gene Green, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Michael Jones during a demonstration about cyber security.

Texas Senator Larry Taylor, U.S. Congressman Gene Green, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Michael Jones during a demonstration about cyber security.

National Guardsman Training to Battle Online Attacks

Michael Jones of Dickinson works in computer networking with the Air National Guard. Last year, he received free training in the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) course and the certified ethical hacker course thanks to the College’s Technology Training for Tomorrow (IT3) grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Jones was recently selected to lead a cyber security demonstration at San Jacinto College for U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

Question: How was your meeting with Secretary Perez?

Michael Jones (MJ): It was pretty cool to talk to the person who directly influences the program and to show him what it has done for me. It is a great program, and I’d love to see it continue.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue courses through the San Jacinto College Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) division?

MJ: I wanted the additional certification for career advancement. The CISSP certification is very important in the security world. Once I completed my courses, I received an opportunity to teach a Security+ class at San Jacinto College. I really enjoy teaching. It keeps me on top of the current trends.

Q: How important is to gain additional certifications in your field?

MJ: It is very important. To get into the door, you have to have these certifications. They help you to understand the principles behind the applications of the trade you’ve been trained in and provide knowledge needed for a university.

graduate reflects on college-wide commencement

By Darby Macha, as told to Rob Vanya

“I felt a chapter end, and a new one begin.”

Graduating from San Jacinto College was a crowning achievement for me. Having all three campuses participate in one commencement ceremony was great. I was just excited to be there, and even more excited that my father was there!

I was shocked when the keynote speaker called my name and told the audience my story. I looked over at my father and he was as surprised as I was, but I could see how proud he was of me, and that was everything! I stood, waving thanks for the applause.

After I walked the stage and took my photo, I finally got to move my tassel, and that was my moment. That moment I felt a chapter end, and a new one begin. I did it! Now I am excited and nervous to be starting university classes. I will miss San Jac, and my friends who are moving on to bigger and better things.

Darby Macha has every right to be proud of her mathematics associate degree. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. She started at the lowest level of developmental math, but through determination and hard work, she progressed rapidly. Macha served as president of the Robotics

Darby Marcha

Club, and as a professor’s assistant in the robotics lab.

She now attends the University of Houston - Clear Lake, in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in math. She is weighing career options. “

No One's Hero

By Sam Alix, as told to Andrea Vasquez

In 2007, I sustained trauma in Iraq. I received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Air Force and fully separated from the military in 2012.

Without the help of VA resources, I know I could easily have been incarcerated, homeless, or worse. I chose to continue my education at San Jacinto College because of its location, and because of its veteran centers, knowing that would be a valuable resource.

What I didn’t expect was a refuge where I could see people that welcomed me with a smile and the camaraderie it would facilitate. The veterans center has given me the extra boost I needed to successfully continue my studies. For the first time, I made the Dean’s List, and also received a scholarship from the San Jacinto College Foundation.

San Jacinto College has been an influential stepping-stone along my journey. As a 47-year-old disabled veteran, I volunteer to help other veterans suffering from substance abuse, homelessness, transitional issues, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is now being referred to as PTSG within the veteran community, with the “G” standing for “growth.” Traumatic experiences can produce turmoil in a survivor’s life, but can also lead to new possibilities. I also mentor veterans through the Galveston County Veterans Treatment Court.

I do music therapy and enjoy art and poetry as outlets to find serenity and peace. The key for me is staying away from triggers, the worst being negative people. I have a great support system that includes my wife, kids, family, and friends. I go to church regularly and encourage other veterans to seek a higher power.

As an American and combat veteran, I have learned to count my blessings regularly. The world isn’t fair, but I have hope and stay in a constant state of perpetual gratefulness. After graduating in May 2015, I plan to pursue my certification as a drug counselor in order to become a volunteer drug counselor for the Gulf Coast Center. I want to help other returning veterans and their families create their own recovery story and live a full, productive life.

I am not a hero or anyone special. For me, it’s about impacting others; remaining behind the

Sam Alix

scenes, celebrating the success of others, and helping future generations of Americans appreciate the great place we call home.

The work and sacrifice are worth it

Danira Garcia

Danira Garcia earned her high school diploma and associate degree concurrently through San Jacinto College’s unique Modified Early College Academy dual credit program. She transferred to the University of Houston as a junior at age 18, and is on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting in spring 2016.

Question: Share some thoughts about challenges you dealt with as a dual credit student, taking high school and college courses simultaneously.

Danira Garcia (DG): Time management was a challenge. I had to wake up early to make it to college on time for classes, and then had to get to high school for classes there in the afternoon. At high school, I had advanced placement classes, which are more demanding and time-intensive, so I had a heavy workload.

Q: That must have required discipline and focus, right?

DG: Yes, but by staying focused I accomplished my two main goals: to graduate on time (at the high school and college concurrently), and to graduate with honors. I had little or no time for social events. But the work and sacrifice were worth it because I earned several scholarships, which paid for all college and university expenses, not including books.

Q: How well did your MECA experience at San Jacinto College prepare you for university life?

DG: Looking back, I am so glad for MECA. It provided a solid foundation for making that transition to the university. After one term at UH, I know you have to really apply yourself to excel. Meeting the high expectations at San Jacinto College, prepared me for university life. I took a full course load at UH