Grad Spotlight - Andy Shin
June 21, 2020 - 09:00 AM
Andy Shin’s mother wanted a better education for her children. So 10 years ago, she traveled with Andy and his brother over 6,000 miles to give them just that.
But the family from Korea had a limited budget, which limited Andy’s academic aspirations.
“In my senior year of high school, I learned it would cost around $70,000 a year to attend a four-year institution,” Andy says. “So instead, I decided to take matters into my own hands.”
Andy’s plan was to enlist in the U.S. Army as an active duty combat medic and use the G.I. Bill to fund his education. There was, however, one problem with that: “I did not know how long the wait would be,” Andy says. “After about six months of waiting to get shipped out to basic training, I decided to attend Mt. SAC.”
Shortly after putting this plan into action, Andy had some personal setbacks that left him wondering if his higher education dream was still a possibility, and the strain of the financial burden of college started to wear on him.
“Naturally, my academic performance suffered as I was devastated from the emotional and physical stress caused by my responsibilities,” he says. “The stakes were so high then and my dream of transferring to the institution of my choice seemed almost impossible at that moment. I was really at rock bottom.”
During the month of June, Mt. SAC social media channels (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) will feature a Mountie Grad spotlight each day, sharing the stories of our students’ journey through Mt. SAC and where their education is taking them next. Get inspired by Emma Espinoza, who grew up in foster care and experienced homelessness several times, and yet still works a full time job as she graduates and goes on to Cal Poly in order to offer her young son a better life. Like a lot of students, Daija Lopez didn't have much direction when she first enrolled, but as a former foster youth she was lifted up and helped by the REACH program and will graduate with a degree in Sociology to transfer to Cal Poly. Read Laura Weigand's incredible journey through life, her many troubles, attending six other community colleges and now, as a 54-year old Mountie graduate. Learn how Raijon Baines took a journey from a 1.3 GPA and quitting Mt. SAC to finally graduating with four AA degrees and acceptance to UC Santa Cruz.
It was at this low moment that Andy leaned on the support resources on campus to help him through the tough times. He worked with the Equity Center for textbooks, the Basic Needs Program for food and groceries, advisors within the Associated Students (AS) and Honors Program, mental health counselors at the Student Health Center, and various other support staff.
“Mt. SAC made me realize that there are people who care about my life,” the first-generation, international student says. “Although it took months to get back on my feet, I now had a different outlook on life with the Mt. SAC community looking out for me.”
Andy repaid the campus community by being an active and positive role model. He served as Vice President of AS, using his voice and influence for his fellow 60,000 Mounties. He worked as a straight ally for the LGBTQ+ community, collaborating with the Pride Center to author the Preferred Name Initiative and presenting the resolution to the Board of Trustees. As AS Finance Senator, he successfully appropriated $500,000 for the student activities budget for 2019-2020. He also tutored students with disabilities and veterans at the Accessible Technology Center.
“By teaching the subjects that I took before,” Andy says, “I was able to learn and strengthen my understanding in core subjects.”
He has strengthened his knowledge so much in fact that he earned Mt. SAC Honors Scholar status from the Honors Program. He also was awarded several scholarships, which he plans to use at his transfer school: Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
“To me, graduating from Mt. SAC proves that the American Dream is still well alive in 2020,” the Economics and Policy major says. “Despite all the obstacles and hardships that I had to face as an international student, I was able to stay on my path to success with the help of many good people on campus. During my time at Mt. SAC, I built a far-reaching community that shares my conviction for making the world a more equitable place for all.” #MtSACgrads2020