My Graduation Story


Joel Valdes, Staff Writer

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

This quote, adapted from the poem by Robert Burns, has stayed engrained deep inside my head throughout my college experience. My plans have been constantly changed and adapted, and it goes without saying that this has been the case for most people this year as well. 

The original plan was to go to the University of Houston after graduating from high school. During the summer before my first semester, I got a job that I was doing full time so that I could put a dent on my student loans. They had agreed to let me work part time after the summer was over so that I could focus on my education. However, my plans changed after seeing how much the cost would stack up going to UH all four years. 

New plan: I was going to attend HCC for two years and finish off the last two years at UH. 

After the summer ended I started working part time and going to the West Loop campus to attend my classes. This worked well for that semester, and I was getting enough saved up to still put a sizable dent on my tuition costs. My plans changed again after I was informed at work that they would no longer offer the part-time position. I had to either work there full time, or stop working there altogether. I had been lucky to get that job, and it would not have been wise to let that opportunity go.

New plan: I was going to work full time and finish HCC by taking all my classes online.

Although the adaptation process to online classes was difficult at first, I had become accustomed at work to managing my schedule and was able to juggle my work and education life. There were times when there was so much homework to do that I had to take days off work, but I was determined to persist. The fact that other classmates attending HCC were doing the same thing as me made me push myself to keep my job and my classes. This worked well, and I was able to climb the ladder at my job while saving up enough money to be able to graduate from UH without any loans. 

In March of this year, the world shut down as the pandemic begun. Surprisingly, no new plan was needed here.

I started working from home instead of going to the office, and I kept taking my classes online like normal. One thing that loomed in the back of my mind is that there was a class that was required to be taken in person. I would not have been able to take off a day of the week at work for a full semester, which meant that I would not have been able to keep my job. However, that requirement went away as everything went online. I have been able to take that class this semester and graduate while keeping my job. 

Despite the plan changes and ups and downs, I have been extremely lucky with the opportunities that I have had. I am excited to finish my education at UH, and continue to be inspired by the persistency that I have seen in the students of HCC.