I ran in to one of my old students, X, and his best friend yesterday. They both graduated last year, were science students and were quite involved on campus.
I counseled X during his first and second year when I was director of MEChA Calmecac, a counseling and mentoring program for UCLA students. Our goal was to raise the graduation rate for Latinos, which was quite low in comparison to other groups when concerned MEChistas began the program in the late 1980s. The director position was my first (and only) full time job. It was extremely challenging, but I loved counseling and working at the Community Programs Office, which is full of bright and talented student leaders. Calmecac led me to graduate school where I decided to focus on retention and persistence issues for Latino students.
While working at Calmecac, I realized that I wouldn’t get to see my work come to fruition. After counseling my students for two years, I’d be off to graduate school and would no longer be there to help out. But I never really left. I stayed at UCLA and kept in contact with some of my old students. They’ve all since graduated.
Yesterday, X and his best friend, brightened up an otherwise dull day. Not only did X remind me of a great time in my life, he also said something that made me feel like I did something right. He explained to his best friend, “I used to have to meet with Cindy every other week because I was on academic probation. And now look at me, studying for the MCAT.”
X takes the MCAT on May 31st. I hope he kicks ass.