Sir William Osler (1849 - 1919) often called the most influential physician in history once said, "Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows." I think of this quote often as I hear our students' stories. This issue of Giant Connections marks the beginning of sharing some of those stories with you. Stories that I hope will change your life as much as these students change mine on a daily basis.
We all come with a different story. That "story" shapes the person we are today. The lens from which we see life, and it often leads us in the direction that we will take tomorrow. And so goes the story of COS Hanford's Arnold Gloria!
Arnold came from a rough background in Corcoran. From the time of age 11, Arnold says he was with the "wrong crowd." For over 20 years, Arnold made choices that he wishes he wouldn't have made. While all that has shaped who he is today, he knows there is more work to do.
I first knew of Arnold shortly after I started at the Hanford Center. He was one of the students that would always say "good morning" or "Hello!" and smile. I would see him studying by himself and with friends. It didn't matter--he was always studying! You can imagine my surprise when I learned more of his story. Those choices which he had previously made because he was with the "wrong crowd" had been replaced with the choice of more dedication that I had ever seen or could even imagine doing myself.
You see, Arnold lived in Corcoran. Each day, he took the train from Corcoran to Hanford, and then rode his bike from the Hanford Amtrak station to the COS Hanford Center--at that time located in the leased facility. Rain. Fog. Heat. Arnold is at school---wearing that smile, friendly attitude, and dedication.
Recently, I met with him and asked him what changed just before Summer of 2009 when he started at COS Hanford? His answer was simple, yet telling. "I had missed out on so many things in life. I have two daughters and six grandkids. I want to be part of their lives. I knew I had to change and more importantly, help others so that they don't go down the same road that I did." As a side note, for personal reasons Arnold moved to Hanford about four weeks ago. One of the many things he can now do more easily is attend Hanford Pentecostal Church with one of his daughters, he proudly tells.
Arnold has taken a full course load every semester/summer since that day in April of 2009 when he applied for a job with College of the Sequoias. When it was already filled, his niece (who works at the Visalia campus) asked if he had thought about going back to school? From there, he enrolled in COS Hanford and never looked back.
I asked him if he missed anything about the old facility. He smiled and said, "It was a place that gave me a good start, and where I met a lot of friends." I then asked him what he thought about the new facility. Again, he smiled and said, "We have a lot more rooms and computers!" He has been able to participate in the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program which has provided valuable assistance. In addition, Arnold believes that another service which he could not have done as well without is that of the tutoring-especially math!
Very shortly, COS Hanford will be missing Arnold. He needs to take a few specialized classes for his major that are only offered in Visalia before graduating from College of the Sequoias after this fall semester. In Spring 2012, he plans is to transfer to Fresno State and major in Human Services. He wants to work in the area of drug/alcohol counseling and make a difference in people's lives, and let others know that they can have a different life than what they have had in the past.
Arnold, you have quickly become an icon of what COS Hanford is about--helping people pursue their dreams! Your dedication and hard work is unmatched, and all of us know that this is just the beginning of something great!