Johan De La Cruz
2013 Bronx Community College Leadership Team Member
None of us are infallible and that’s what makes us human. My name is Johan De La Cruz. Throughout my 22 years of life I have learned that through adversity, my strength and resilience has developed. Today, I will tell you about defining moments in the Accelerated Study in Associates Program (ASAP) that have motivated me to strive to become the best I can be. Three specific areas of life in which ASAP has influenced me in are school, work, and family.
When I was younger I never thought of school as a priority. Every time I thought about attending college the worrisome thoughts of financial obstacles would race through my head. I also thought about the lack of support I would receive throughout school. The idea of having such a big responsibility for the first time in my life consumed me with fear. When I graduated from high school I had a very immature outlook. Like many adolescents I wanted to start working and become independent so I would be able to leave my parent’s house. College was my last resort; it was absolutely the last thing on my mind.
As time went by I was able to obtain a job at a retail cell phone store where I spent two years of my life. Those two years gave me a taste of reality. This job required me to work Monday to Saturday from 9am to 9pm. No sick days, no holidays, and no vacations. Eventually I started observing and analyzing how most of my co-workers had spent more than 10 years working for the company, and there was no growth. This realization was a defining moment in my life. I knew my co-workers and I were living paycheck to paycheck. In other words they were working to survive and so was I. I then realized I needed that thing I feared so much in my life… Change. I was willing to risk it all and leave that fear behind and pursue a career where I had the opportunity for growth.
The transition from a working lifestyle to a school lifestyle was not easy. There were many sacrifices I had to make that not only impacted me, but also those who depended on me. My family consists of my younger sister and my mother. My mother never valued an education. She wanted me to work in order to provide financial support for the household. It took me a while to convince my mother but I got her blessing and was able to attend school.
A couple of months after, I was walking to the Bronx Community College campus. I felt determined to achieve anything I set my mind to. Despite my will power, I felt that there was a piece of the puzzle missing. I had entered this new college lifestyle where things were completely different from my high school experience. At that moment I had no sense of direction. I knew I was a step closer to developing and achieving my goals but I was lacking information and support.
I started my first class during the summer at Bronx Community College. Math 01 to be exact. I was struggling because I had spent two years out of school. I had forgotten EVERYTHING there was to know about math. I met a girl there who decided to study with me and we became very good at the subject. The ten-day summer workshop had come to an end and I had found out I failed. I was devastated because I knew that if I failed my graduation requirements would take longer to meet. I was ready to call it quits and walk out of campus and get another job, and leave behind the whole college idea. As I was going down the stairs I heard someone shouting my name. I looked back and it was my classmate. She asked me how I did, and I told her about my disappointing results. She then said, “It’s not over yet.” She took me to the math lab and scheduled me for a second workshop. I was happy that I got a second chance but I was even more grateful for the fact that this individual did not allow me to just plainly quit. She and I had a long talk in which she shared her success story with me and told me all about the ASAP program. I had received an invitation to the ASAP program prior to her telling me about it but I had completely ignored it. When I first saw the invitation I had thought it was a program for specialized students or like a college GED. When I took the Math 01 class for the second time, not only did I pass but I also learned an important moral. I learned that there are many opportunities for personal and academics goals even if I do not succeed the first time around. I welcomed the ASAP program into my life and it is where I met many individuals who willingly provided me with academic and emotional support. For the very first time I felt like I belonged.
ASAP has been the core of my success at Bronx Community College. Aside from the financial incentive ASAP has developed a leader in me. I have received amazing guidance all throughout my academic journey at Bronx Community College. The support and advice provided by ASAP has given me confidence in order to not become a statistic. Thus far I have accomplished honorary deeds throughout the short span of my academic journey at Bronx Community College. Ever since I enrolled in ASAP, school has not been a sacrifice anymore but a privilege and an investment. ASAP has provided me with the balance of finance, support and guidance. This opportunity has opened many doors. Being part of the program has given me the clarity as to where I am going, how I will get there, when and why I want to get there. I feel that I am accomplishing my life’s ambitions along with my academic goals.