by Katherine Neuner
Senior Christian Luzano attended community college courses at Southwestern, Cuyamaca and Grossmont college beginning in his junior year. Unlike other Bonita Vista students, the courses he takes are selected in order to qualify for an Associate’s Degree in General Studies with an emphasis in Science and Mathematics.
“I’m almost done. In order to get the Associate’s Degree, I need to do well in [my] classes. I need to get at least fives on the International Baccalaureate tests and at least fours on the Advanced Placement tests, which I will do; I guarantee it,” C. Luzano said.
The courses that C. Luzano took over the past two years have been determined based on the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) requirements. These standards outline which courses are needed in order to qualify for different Associate’s Degrees.
“To get those degrees, I needed certain classes, [so I took those first] because one, they were easy, and two, I’d knock them all out so I wouldn’t have to spend two years trying to do them,” C. Luzano said.
Of the three community colleges he has attended, C. Luzano is currently taking a biology course at Cuyamaca. This saves money because Cuyamaca enrollment fees are waived for California high school students. Although C. Luzano says that he initially enrolled in community college because of its financial benefits, he states that he later realized the value of its learning opportunities.
“Of course [it would be beneficial] financially and I’d save more time. Both of those together were really the first motivators for me. But as I did more college courses, I started to realize I learned more doing that than I could either doing high school alone or just college alone,” C. Luzano said.
Luzano states that Physics teacher Elan Hiller was also influential towards his academic choices. C. Luzano says that Hiller helped him to maintain his work habits and time management.
“Time management is an issue that we promote with the way we do our assignments. There is [also] the self-discipline of doing what you’re supposed to do and there’s good old-fashioned hard work. If you do those three things, you’ll be pretty successful in everything. He’s a hard worker and as a result of those things, he is doing very well,” Hiller said.
Although C. Luzano is near achieving his goal of an Associate’s Degree, parent Mario Luzano says that this may not be the case for every student. According to M. Luzano, whether it is worth it to take community college courses as a high school student is dependent on the student.
“If they can make the time, then sure. It has its benefits, but if it’s too overwhelming to a point where you’re neglecting school work in high school, neglecting family, friends, or your health; if things suffer, then it doesn’t work. It really depends if you can maintain a balance, like he was able to,” M. Luzano said.
Hiller states that a key to C. Luzano’s achievements in community college is his inquisitiveness.
“I think it is the intellectual curiosity that really drives him and distinguishes him. Case in point, he was motivated enough to [soon] be able to receive an Associate’s Degree while in high school. I call that motivation right there,” Hiller said.
Luzano attributes his progress in his Associate’s Degrees to his work ethic. He argues that putting in the extra effort is what helped him to be in the position where he is now.
“I would never say [I am] advanced, I would always say I work harder. You can do the minimum work, go to high school but really, the only things that help you grow are the things you do after putting in a little more effort,” C. Luzano said.