Students detail problems, challenges and successes in starting semester

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Criminal justice sophomore Stephan Lopez hands an El Paraiso paleta to Celeste Jones, junior at Travis Early College High School, as a part of Weeks of Welcome Tuesday at the Church of Christ Student Center. To celebrate the first week of fall classes, volunteers at the center were giving away free paletas to passersby, and inside the center were free sausage wraps, green beans, salad and drinks. Photo by Alison Graef

Criminal justice sophomore Stephan Lopez hands an El Paraiso paleta to Celeste Jones, junior at Travis Early College High School, as a part of Weeks of Welcome Tuesday at the Church of Christ Student Center.  Volunteers celebrated the first week of classes by giving away free paletas to passersby, and inside the center were free sausage wraps, green beans, salad and drinks. Photo by Alison Graef

Veterans Affairs office, advisers, professors are credited with helping students.

On Monday morning, students were rushing with umbrellas to their first day of fall semester classes.

As thousands of new and returning students enroll each year, some faced challenges in enrolling, paying for college and preparing for the work classes will require.

Business freshman Christopher Johnson had a smooth start registering after six years of not being in college, and said he had a great experience with the Veteran Affairs office.

“I am a veteran, so when I was enrolling into college, I went straight to the Veteran Affairs office and they helped me enroll,” Johnson said. “The VA office was very awesome, and they helped me step by step on enrolling into my classes. The only problem I had was getting all my personal papers together.”

Biology pre-nursing sophomore Katherine Jimenez was confused by the enrollment process and didn’t know there were several steps.

“I wasn’t aware of people or programs that can help with applying in the school so I went on Apply Texas and they emailed me to go on ACES,” she said.

New students can go to the Tino and Millie Duran Welcome Center to learn about the enrollment and registration processes.

Although Jimenez did not get help from anyone at this college, she was able to register on her own and is taking four classes, two of which are online.

She is nervous about her first online class, but one of her professors has been helpful.

“My government teacher, Professor Rogers (Dr. John Phillip Rogers), has been very helpful in setting up the online course and is even holding a live orientation,” she said.

Physical therapy sophomore Johnny Rodriguez hopes to pass his two online classes this semester since this will be his first time taking classes online.

“I am nervous that I might not do as well because I don’t have the teacher in front of me telling me what to do face to face,” Rodriguez said. “Although I do not know what to expect, I know that communication will be one of the important things I need to use when taking online courses so I can communicate with my teachers when I need help.”

International business freshman Alyn J. Morales finds it challenging to communicate with her professors and keep up with classes.

Morales is an exchange student from Mexico who has been in San Antonio for two weeks and is facing a language barrier.

“I came to SAC through a scholarship, and the main challenge was to keep everything in order,” she said. “Registering for the right classes was a little confusing since I don’t know the language very well.”

Besides paying for housing and transportation, the exchange program offers four months of counseling upon completion of the course.

“I would love to stay here, but I can’t,” she said. “I came to learn the language.”

Nursing freshman Erica Guerrero also faces the challenge of learning English because Spanish is her first language.

“I have only lived in San Antonio for three years, but I hope to learn how to speak English better while taking my nursing classes and getting my degree,” she said.

Bilingual education sophomore David Moreno had difficulties making it back to college this semester.

Moreno, who is lawfully present in the states through DACA, a program initiated in June 2012 that grants work permits, said, “I found it almost impossible to return this year, especially since I’m considered an independent student now.

“In my case, I didn’t meet the requirements for FAFSA due to my limited access through my status and ended up paying out of pocket.”

One of the challenges Moreno will encounter is needing to work 40 hours a week and still manage to attend this college and the University of Texas at San Antonio simultaneously, although he is optimistic.

“This is nothing compared to what I have gone through, but maintaining a positive attitude and a good balance between my job and school is a priority,” he said.

Nursing sophomore Krystal Duran had a problem paying for tuition because she did not qualify for financial aid. She chose to work longer shifts, full-time, including overnight.

“I just got off a shift two hours ago, and trust me it’s a challenge,” Duran said. “I am usually half asleep, but I chose to take less classes and lots of coffee to get me through the day.”

Engineering freshman Josh Finney and business administration sophomore Dominique Huggins said they did not have problems with enrolling or attending classes.

Finney recently turned 30 and has been out of college for a couple of years. He believes determination is going to help him get through the year.

He said he plans to change his lifestyle.

“Now I am not working fulltime as a bartender, so I have more time dedicated doing this,” he said.

Huggins thinks the biggest obstacles he will face are pop quizzes.

He said the only way to overcome them is to look at PowerPoint presentations in advance.

Pre-pharmacy freshman Rick Zavala had problems prioritizing time in the past and wants to do better this semester.

“I’m going to try to start my assignments earlier rather than doing them last minute,” he said.

Biology sophomore Reyna Nunez wants to focus on studying.

“My biggest challenge would be studying this semester for both my Anatomy 2 and microbiology classes because those classes involve a lot of memorization,” Nunez said. “I have to make a B or higher in these two classes because these are my pre-requisites for me to be an applicant for the dental hygiene program at the University of Texas Health Science Center.”

Former biology sophomore Raynna Rivera transferred from the University of Texas at Austin with the intention of switching to a music business major but risked losing college credits.

“After some advising, I learned that if I ever wanted to go back to UT-Austin, most, if not any, classes from SAC would not transfer over,” she said.

To keep all of her earned credits, Raynna said an adviser suggested she seek a liberal arts degree at this college.

“I didn’t have a direct adviser,” business administration sophomore Jennifer Diaz said of her difficult enrollment process.

She returned to college last semester after a few years off.

After she spoke with several advisers, she said she took a lot of courses she didn’t need.

The issue was resolved when she was assigned an adviser for her major who helped better understand her degree plan.

She expects calculus to be her biggest challenge.

“But I’m excited about it,” she said. “Attitude has a lot to do with success so I’m pretty confident I’ll do good.”

When pre-nursing freshman Elizabeth Perez registered, she found out she had to retake a class because she received a low grade the first time she took it.

Although she felt annoyed by this, she decided to take the class and received a B the second time.

Perez thinks her biggest challenge this semester will be passing her anatomy class.

She believes by utilizing the tutoring center and forming a study group she will be able to pass the class.

Despite the minor issues she has faced, Perez is enjoying going to this college and looks forward to this semester.

“I love it here. It’s very convenient because I’m already used to the campus from when I was going to Travis (Early College) High School,” she said.

English sophomore Natalie Holbrook said she didn’t have trouble registering for classes but she had trouble finding a parking space.

“It took me 45 minutes to find a spot today,” she said. “I had to park far back actually. Not too far, but I had to walk a bit. I parked near the tennis courts, and I had to attend class in the Moody building.”

Contributors to this story are Bismarck D. Andino, Raven Arriaga, Estefania Flores, Emily Garcia, Aly Miranda, Felicia Mora, R.M. Ozuniga, Sasha D. Robinson, Christy Romero and Brianna Rodrigue.


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