It took several years, numerous schedule changes, and three different colleges to find the right fit. Compton College turned out to be the best place for Daniel Astorga to pursue his academic goals; he is now headed toward a career in medicine. Astorga enrolled at Compton College in 2017 and discovered that the smaller campus environment really suited his learning style. He also found a career path in science and medicine after realizing he has an affinity for chemistry. He graduated from Compton College in June with three associate degrees: two Associate of Science and one Associate of Arts, all in physical science disciplines. Finding support from the college's STEM Center was key to his success.
"The whole Compton College STEM Center community, including fellow students, staff, and tutors, has given me the will and inspiration to set my goals high," he said. "The STEM Center is my second family. The STEM Center staff have created an environment where students know they are supported, and their assistance was fundamental to my successful transfer."
Astorga always planned to attend college, and had a few acceptances to four-year universities when he graduated from Compton High School in 2012. However, several obstacles stood in the way of his educational plans at that time. With a single mother who just lost her job and recent death of a beloved cousin, he decided to stay close to home and save money on tuition and fees, so he enrolled in an area community college. For the next several years, he attended two different community colleges while also working and sometimes opting to work full time and attend college part time to accommodate living expenses.
"Even though my family and I had a lot of challenges, I knew that if I didn’t pursue a college education, I would just have to find a job but not really have a career offering growth and earning power," he said.
Astorga will transfer to California State University, Long Beach in fall 2020 as a chemistry major and aspires to become a surgeon in either orthopedics or pediatrics. He is also interested in medical research.
In addition to attending classes, Astorga works at Adventist Health White Memorial, a hospital in Los Angeles. He is a nursing assistant and a safety attendant who helps ensure the well-being of patients. He also has experience working in an emergency room and as an EMT.