Cecilia Almeida - Student Success

Claudia Blue

Cecilia AlmeidaCompton College alumna Cecilia Almeida was compelled to follow a specific career path when a tragic event occurred in her life. Eleven years ago, her father was murdered and his killer was never found. Obviously, this event and its aftermath had a huge impact on Cecilia's life. She became interested in criminal justice. When she graduated from high school and applied to colleges, she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree and ultimately a graduate degree in criminal justice, with the hope of one day joining the FBI.

Cecilia's original plan was to go to California State University, Bakersfield. Unfortunately, due to financial issues, she couldn't afford the tuition. Never one to quit, she decided to take advantage of the opportunities available at her local community college. Cecilia was hesitant about the experience and wasn't sure it could offer her what she needed. But Compton College gave her a whole new perspective.

"When I started taking classes in my first year, that's when my mind completely changed," says Cecilia. "It was amazing there."

When Cecilia first started at Compton College, everything was in person, on campus. She could talk to professors and ask them questions whenever she wanted. In particular, Criminal Justice Instructor Donald Mason was a huge help in providing her guidance, and Cecilia is still in contact with him to this day.

Unfortunately, when COVID hit, everything changed. Classes went virtual. Lectures became videos. Instead of working together, a lot of the work became asynchronous, with students tasked with learning the material and doing the work on their own. For Cecilia, this made her coursework a lot more difficult.

Her statistics class proved particularly challenging. Normally great at math, her learning style didn't fit well with the professor's way of teaching, which made the material difficult to understand-especially in an asynchronous learning environment. 

"I went through multiple mental breakdowns," she says. "I struggled so much."

Throughout the semester, Cecilia reached out to the counselors at Compton College multiple times, worried about how she would get through the class and convinced she would have to drop it. But the counselor encouraged her to stick with it. She helped Cecilia to get tutoring, and suggested she form a study group with some of the other students in class via Zoom and social media.

Cecilia worked hard in the class, hoping to squeak by with a B. But she didn't. Instead, she got an A.

Cecilia went on to graduate from Compton College with two associate degrees, one in criminal justice, and one in social behavior. While the second degree wasn't intentional, her mentors at Compton College helped her along the best path for her chosen career, and the result was a background in both areas. Cecilia recently transferred to California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)-finally achieving her goal of going to a four-year university.

"Knowing that I got accepted was just a dream come true," says Cecilia.

But after attending Compton College, the experience was not what she expected. In community college, she was surrounded by the resources and support she needed to succeed. Instructors and staff members would check in with her periodically to make sure things were going OK, and to ensure she had what she needed. At CSULB, she's largely on her own. It took time to get used to being the one to reach out to the professors for help, rather than having them check in.

Cecilia is making the most of her time at CSULB, and thanks to the foundation she received at Compton College, she's well on her way to achieving her dream. While she knows there is currently a stigma around law enforcement, Cecilia wants to show the world that there are those in law enforcement who genuinely want to do good in the world.

Losing her father at a young age forced Cecilia to grow up very fast and ever since she's felt pressure to set a good example for her brother. Eleven years later, it appears she's done just that-her brother is looking to attend Compton College as well.

To people like her brother and others who are considering studying at Compton College, Cecilia has this to say: "It's not going to be a choice that you'll regret. Especially with the support and resources available. Especially for first time students, it will be the most amazing choice you make."

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