Success Reached: Karina Calderon

TCC’s tagline is Success Within Reach. Our latest graduates have reached that milestone in their educational journey at TCC. In this series, we want to introduce you to some of them.

“I chose TCC because I believed it would be the best option after postponing going to college after high school. Going to a large university wouldn’t have been an easy transition,” said Karina Calderon. “It was the only community college that I had heard anything about since I moved here two years ago.”

Driving by TCC South one day, she decided to stop. “I went to the advisor’s office, and they made my registration and enrollment process so easy.  It was the best decision I could have made for my education.”

Karina is graduating with an Associate of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Education, but looking back, she says her educational journey has been quite a rollercoaster.

“In high school, I put so much pressure on myself to be valedictorian,” she admitted. “I was on track to graduate as Number One in my class for three years until I pushed too hard and wore myself out.” Maxing herself out, she said she started to feel overwhelmed and started skipping class. She didn’t enjoy school any longer, which caused more anxiety.  Not only did Karina drop in rank, her GPA kept going down.

If that wasn’t enough, then COVID-19 struck. She was in her high school’s 2020 graduation class. She said what little motivation she had evaporated. “Everything that a senior looks forward to was taken away from me.  I was so depressed and so lost. I just wanted to graduate and be done,” Karina said.

She tried community college back home in Illinois but withdrew from all her classes within the first two weeks. “I am not an online learner and trying to do so would just be setting myself up for failure,” she said.

Karina moved to Texas in 2021 but was still scared to go back to school, so she started working instead.

“I had no friends,” she said. But her family kept encouraging her that school would be where she found her people. Additionally, they told her that she was too smart not to go back to school.”

Thankfully, Karina listened to her family. “I came to TCC and really enjoyed my first semester. All my professors were super helpful in figuring out my career,” she said.  I changed my major three times before finally deciding to pursue political science. I also got really involved on campus and met so many great people along the way.”  On top of that, she was able to complete her associate degree in less than two years.

Karina considers her greatest accomplishment was maintaining a positive attitude and completing her associate degree after coming back to college, even though she had so much anxiety.  “I am glad I pushed through it,” she said.

Following her graduation from TCC, she says she plans to attend Texas Wesleyan University to complete her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a certificate in Teaching. After that, law school, “hopefully UT Austin!”

Karina’s career aspiration is to become a lawyer specializing in criminal defense. She hopes to teach during the day and go to law school at night. “Teaching has always been something I said I wanted to do just because a lot of my high school teachers had such an impact on me that I would like to do the same thing for others.”