CTN hosted a virtual Fall Ascender Student Transfer Motivational Conference on Friday, September 25th. The theme for the seminar was Aspire, Inspire, and Motivate (AIM). Over 65 participants attended with all CTN colleges represented. The seminar began at 9:30 with a welcome and introduction by CTN staff which was followed by a session with CTN, CEO Dr. Maria Chavez who shared her educational journey and emphasized the importance of an education.  

After a short break with door prizes, ACC Master AOS Advisor, Ariel Flores introduced Trish Welsh, Ram Vela and Shantelle Harper from ACC’s Center for Student Services, who provided information and advice on careers and transfer, including top majors and occupations. Flores then led a discussion about the impact of COVID on careers based on degree of education, ending with the question “How do you think the pandemic will change the future of where and how we work?”

Next Stacy Ybarra, CTN’s Director of Student Engagement, shared scholarship and financial information and opportunities in her presentation titled “Where’s the Money?”  She shared specific websites and showed participants strategies for searching using google.

After a lunch break, Dr. Anna Alaniz introduced keynote speaker, Dr. Tomas Gonzalez who is a radiology resident at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Gonzalez shared his educational journey which began in Mexico. At the age of 13, he moved to Roma, TX, where he had to repeat the 7th grade. He said it was a difficult transition because of language and cultural barriers, and he failed his math class. However, in eighth grade, he was named the Middle School Top English Student and transitioned from ESL classes to regular classes. In high school he was active in various extracurricular activities including UIL science competition which he said helped prepare him for college-level science courses. Towards the end of his high school career, his family worked as migrant farmworkers. His boss commented that migrant work was honorable work, but Tomas had a chance to go to college, which many of them did not, and he should take it.

Gonzalez graduated 7th in his high school class and went on to attend The University of Texas at Austin. At UT Austin, he majored in biology and was active in several extracurricular activities. He received the UT Austin Outstanding Student Award and graduated in the top 4 percent of his class. He then attended medial school at the University of Texas Health Science Center and is presently a resident with the intention of becoming an interventional radiologist.

He offered advice throughout his presentation which included “Watch out for the naysayers. Don’t let them get on your path”  and “you are your best competition.”

After the final break with door prizes, Dr. Alaniz asked CTN’s alumni panel to introduce themselves. She then asked them questions about their obstacles, their role models, and the way the program helped them. She also asked them how better prepared they were than others to face the pandemic.

Next in breakout rooms, participants and alumni shared their “powerful why” and found similarities which they shared when everyone returned to the group. Alumni Farah Guerrero shared this message with participants, “We are here to help you reach your dreams and that you can see through us it is possible!! Never give up.”

Conference participant Victoria said, “This conference has given me so much motivation to follow my dreams no matter the problems that I come across. Such awesome and successful people who had struggles and no matter what, they did it. I have faith that I will become what I want.” Another conference participant Siobhan commented, “I am very thankful that I am now a part of all of this support.”

 Dr. Alaniz ended the conference with these remarks “We want to send you off with our blessings and know that we are your familia now and that we are here to see you succeed porque si se puede.”

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