. . . faces of the legacy!

    is possible . . .

Lisa Bastio never imagined that she would one day attend college, let alone graduate with distinction. When she came to Mt. SAC, she had a ninth-grade education and had dropped out of high school because of teen-age pregnancy. No one else in her family had ever attended college but she wanted to serve as an inspiration to her six children and three grandchildren. And what an inspiration she proved to be.

Lisa, 40, graduated with a 3.75 GPA last spring and transferred to Pitzer College in Claremont. She aspires to return to Mt. SAC as an English teacher.

Lisa with Xavier Padilia
Image Lisa with Xavier Padilia, both selected to the 2011 PTK All-California Academic Teams

While at Mt. SAC, she was named to the 2011 All-California Academic Third Team, chosen by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international community college honor society. She also was a member of the college’s Honors Program and served as president of the Mt. SAC PTK chapter.

Lisa was also one of 60 scholars selected among 785 community college nominees across the nation to receive the 2011 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Her selection marks the fifth consecutive year that a Mt. SAC student has won the coveted scholarship, valued up to $30,000 annually.

“I want to teach my daughters and sons that there really aren’t limits if you really want something,” she says. “The only thing that stops you is fear, and once you let go of that, anything is possible.”

Following a DREAM...

Profoundly impacted by the events of September 11, Alberto Aranda joined the U.S. Marine Corps while a junior in high school and was deployed to Iraq just after he turned 18. He says, “I wanted to defend my country even if it meant putting on hold my plans of going to college and becoming a firefighter.”

Alberto served two combat tours. Just before returning home in 2007, he suffered serious injuries— a traumatic brain injury and hearing loss—for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. Alberto shares, “I don’t complain about my injuries because I would have given my life for my country. I am grateful for my life and for being able to say that I have defended this great country of mine.”

Once out of the military, Alberto enrolled at Mt. SAC to fulfill his dream of becoming a firefighter. He completed his goal of graduating from the Fire Technology Program in June.

Alberto, now 26, transferred to California State University, Los Angeles, where he is studying fire management administration. He also intends to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and become a teacher as part of the “Troops to Teachers” program. His ultimate career goal is to become chief of his hometown fire department in Sunnyvale.

“I want to help as many people as I can,” Alberto says. “I like knowing I can make a difference.”

No longer a QUITTER . . .

Natalie Horne long considered herself a quitter. She had several starts and stops at Mt. SAC from 1999 to 2001, leaving her transcripts riddled with withdrawals and failures.

But one day, something clicked. She pulled herself together and stopped making excuses for her lack of academic progress. In 2009, Natalie, once again, enrolled at Mt. SAC and decided to complete her degree this time despite feeling that she could not accomplish her goal. “My biggest challenge was myself,” she laments.

While at Mt. SAC, the Pomona resident majored in communication studies and was an active member of ASPIRE, an academic support program for African-American students.

Despite having support from her ASPIRE mentor and encouragement from counselors, Natalie felt the familiar pangs of anxiety and nearly ceased her studies once again. However, this time was different; she persevered.

“I stuck with it,” she said. “I cried often, but I studied. And after all of that strife, I earned my first college ‘A’! I had finally done it, and it was the greatest feeling! Proving to myself that I was not a failure strengthened my resolve to finish.”

And finish she did. A member of the Class of 2011, Natalie, now 30, is a sociology major at the University of California at Riverside.

“If you want it, research it for yourself, teach yourself to stop complaining, pray, and keep moving forward,” she advises. “And remember your journey so you can encourage someone along theirs.”