Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience


Mario  Rossetti
Mario Rossetti San Francisco State University, Psychology San Francisco State University (SFSU) psychology major Mario Rossetti says that CSM shaped him academically and contributed to his development as a well-rounded person in general. “The Mario that started at CSM and the Mario that graduated from CSM are two different people… I have CSM to thank for that!”
Kendrick Bernas
Kendrick Bernas San Francisco State University, Biology I took my first class at CSM via the concurrent enrollment program back as a high school student and I was instantly hooked! The collaborative and dynamic learning environment along with CSM’s supportive and qualified faculty is why I chose to attend CSM. And fundamentally, that has been the cornerstone of a truly fulfilling experience that came with the opportunity to learn and succeed. As CSM students, we’re fortunate to have so many articulation agreements set up with the University of California, California State University, and private universities to ensure we have a guaranteed pathway to excellent colleges and universities.
Emily Burns
Emily Burns UC Berkeley, Sociology CSM allowed me the flexibility to explore various courses that interested me. My broad interests all intertwined and led me to pursue sociology. My professors were inspiring and very supportive. Through the Transfer Club, I learned all about the application process and had the opportunity to visit university campuses including Berkeley and Davis. I appreciate that Mike Mitchell in Transfer Services was there to answer every application question and ease my worries, and my academic counselor, Kathy Sammut, cheered me on all along the way.
Winnie Wu
Winnie Wu UC Berkeley, Communications Attending CSM was one of the best choices I have ever made. As an international student from Taiwan, I was really excited and nervous about studying in the United States. As it turned out I didn’t have anything to be nervous about. At CSM I was able to pursue my dreams in a diverse educational environment. The college provided me a lot more opportunities than I ever expected and it prepared me for a higher level of education.
Courtney Oliver
Courtney Oliver San Diego State University, Business Administration I decided to attend CSM because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, and financially CSM was a better option for me. CSM provided me with the resources that I needed to be successful. The staff made it easy for me to figure out what major I wanted to study and motivated me to do well so I could transfer to a school of my choice.
Victoria Anderson
Victoria Anderson UC Davis, Communications Victoria Anderson fulfilled her goal of attending a university after high school graduation. However, the path to college for the Notre Dame High School graduate wasn't as straight forward as planned. After a year at a State university campus, and despite doing well in her classes, Victoria realized that she wasn't ready to make that big step as a college freshman. She decided to return home and attend CSM for her sophomore year. In doing so, Victoria became one of a growing number of reverse transfer students – students who begin their college education at universities and transfer to community colleges.
Mario Ayala
Mario Ayala College of San Mateo, A.A., Broadcasting and Electronic Media CSM is educating the next generation of media makers and Mario Ayala is a perfect example of that college-to-career connection. When Mario arrived in U.S. from Mexico in 2002, he couldn't imagine that he would earn a college degree and that the degree would lead to a broadcasting career with a world-class media company. “My English was limited, I had a six-month old daughter and I didn’t have a job.”
Ahmad Albawayah
Ahmad Albawayah San Jose State University, Aviation After graduation from Hillsdale High School, I decided to attend CSM to finish my general education as soon as possible and at the lowest cost. With the support of the CSM staff and Transfer Services, I earned an associate degree in social science and was able to transfer to San Jose State University as a junior.
Karina Orocio
Karina Orocio UC Santa Cruz, B.A. At CSM, she took advantage of many resources and was extremely active in college life. She became involved in many student clubs and in student government where she had the opportunity to meet many people from different countries, who have different traditions. “This is what made my experience at CSM so special.”
Stephen Kadash
Stephen Kadash College of San Mateo, Fire Technology Stephen Kadash says participating in community service projects during high school inspired him to pursue a career that would allow him to serve his community on a daily basis. The dream job and career goal for this Redwood City native was to become a firefighter. “Being a firefighter is a career that gives me the opportunity to help someone who is having one of the worst days of their life and they are depending on me and the rest of the crew to help them.” Knowing the increased competition for jobs in fire service and the demand for more educated applicants, Stephen took the first step toward his career goal by enrolling at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 2012, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in forestry and natural resources.
Chennie Castañon
Chennie Castañon UC Berkeley, B.S., Conservation Resource Studies While she was growing up, Chennie Castañon never considered going to college. Her family moved frequently; it was a lifestyle that created challenges for Chennie’s education. As a high school student, she attended no less than eight schools. Unable to settle into one school for any length of time, Chennie lost academic credits and was forced to repeat courses. Discouraged by her teachers and principals, Chennie decided to quit school when she was 17. In spite of her haphazard education, Chennie passed the GED to receive her high school proficiency certificate. Suddenly on her own, this resilient young woman spent the next ten years working to support herself and discovering what kind of a career she wanted to pursue.
Justin Hoffmann
Justin Hoffmann UC Berkeley, Political Economy From real estate to business to recreation administration and finally to political economy: that’s the journey that CSM student Justin Hoffmann has followed in his pursuit of a major. While at CSM, he was exposed to experiences and opportunities that inspired him to choose a major which would prepare him to help people in some of the most underdeveloped areas of the world.
Melissa Aliu & Sione Fanaika
Melissa Aliu & Sione Fanaika UC Santa Cruz, Sociology
Louisiana State University, Sociology
Cousins Melissa Aliu and Fehoko Fanaika come from a close-knit Pacific Islander family that greatly values a college education. Sacramento native and high school football player, Fehoko made the move to the Bay Area to be closer to his extended family and continue his football career at CSM. He lived with Melissa’s family in South San Francisco and the two cousins found themselves attending CSM at the same time. As fellow students, they provided each other with motivation to work hard and inspiration to reach their respective goals.
Rhonda Demars
Rhonda Demars College of San Mateo, A.A., Social Science Rhonda Demars “is doing her dream.” As an entrepreneur and president of her own company, which produces natural cosmetics and skincare products, Rhonda credits CSM with a share of her success, “I have to say if it wasn't for CSM and my teachers I wouldn't be where I am today!” Rhonda enrolled at CSM when she was in her late 30s with the goal of earning a degree in psychology. At that time, her philosophy was to take one class at a time while not concentrating on how long it would take to complete her degree. “Each class was a challenge but I was determined to finish. I was even awarded scholarships, which paid for books and supplies.”
Karen Naval
Karen Naval San Jose State University, Justice Studies I began my journey at CSM with the goal of obtaining an associate degree in administration of justice; I thought that a two-year degree would be all I would need to begin a career in law enforcement. As a first-generation college student, this experience was not only new but very scary for me. When I first enrolled, I worried that I wasn't capable of transferring to a four-year university. The EOPS program and Transfer Services helped me realize that not only was I meeting requirements for my associate degree, but I was satisfying the transfer requirements to attend a California State University campus as well.
Gabriel Arteaga
Gabriel Arteaga UC Riverside, B.A. What does a college graduate do with a degree in political science? For Gabriel Arteaga the answer is to enter the political arena by working for his local congresswoman.
Efrosini Proios
Efrosini Proios UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology After completing high school in Greece, Efrosini Proios decided that California was where she wanted to continue her education. Arriving in the Bay Area, she began exploring the wealth of college and university options the region offered. Efrosini recalls, “I visited CSM’s campus and it seemed like a beautiful place to go to school. And, I learned the college offered many different majors, lots of activities and had some of the best professors in the Bay Area.
Grace  Noland
Grace Noland San Francisco State University, Communications For Grace Noland, a graduate of Mercy High School in Burlingame, attending CSM was an enhancing and transforming experience. She arrived at the college as a determined and independent student uncertain of what she wanted to pursue academically, but she had confidence that she would be able to figure it out at CSM. "I wanted to start over. I wanted my successful past—that had been successful because of my dedicated parents and supportive teachers and coaches—to be put to the test. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it alone. And, I wanted my supporters to be proud that they had contributed to my success."
Samantha Seminoff
Samantha Seminoff Sonoma State University, B.A.
Arizona State University, M.A.
Enrolling at CSM was a turning point for Samantha Seminoff. Recruited to play water polo by CSM Coach Randy Wright, Samantha recognized that a wonderful opportunity had come her way. "The coaching staff showed genuine interested in me as an athlete." This helped motivate her to work hard to develop her athletic skills, and more importantly, it marked the first time that she took school work seriously.
Sebastian Grillo
Sebastian Grillo San Jose State University, B.S. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of attending a community college. However, once I visited CSM I was sold by the campus's eye opening, breathtaking views and friendly atmosphere.

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