At 23 years old, Jesse Ramos has come a long way from not knowing what he wants to do as a graduate from Antonia Pantoja Charter School – he will transfer from Wright College to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study chemical engineering in Spring 2020.

When he learned that he qualified for the Star Scholarship, Jesse headed to Wright College, following in the footsteps of his older sister (and leading the way for his younger brother, who is now also a Star Scholar). In his own words, math was a tough subject for him and his grades reflected that. That’s when he met Professor Doris Espiritu.

“Dr. Espiritu has supported, guided, and inspired me – I owe so much to her. She introduced me to chemistry, and helped me learn to love math. Engineering is such a good fit for me, but I never would have known that without her,” he explained.

Having started classes in the fall of 2015, Jesse had to leave after two semesters when his mom was diagnosed with cancer. Jesse had to work two full-time jobs, stocking shelves at night and being a receptionist during the day, to help his family pay their bills. By the time the Fall 2017 semester started, his mom was back on her feet and he was ready to go back to school.

He says his experience at Wright has been amazing, and that his instructors were caring and supportive. He took advantage of the resources like the Tutoring Center and Writing Center, visited his academic advisor often, and was president of the American Chemical Society Wright College Student Chapter. He was even able to conduct research and present it at a national meeting in Orlando, Florida.

“Wright made a huge impact in my life. If I went elsewhere, I’m sure I wouldn’t have accomplished everything I have,” he explained.

His hard work paid off when he was accepted to UIUC to study chemical engineering in November 2019.

Now in remission, his mom is one of his biggest supporters. Another is Jesse’s 7-year-old son. And as he continues on with his education, his advice to others who may be considering community college is this: “There is a common notion that community colleges are for students who aren’t smart, not academic – but we have some of the brightest minds I’ve ever encountered here at Wright. Take advantage of what CCC offers – you are paying less, have more support, classes are smaller, and you will be learning the exact thing you would be at a four year university.”

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