Nickole Rosalez didn’t intend to be SPSCC’s 2020 student commencement speaker. But when she found out English professor Corrie Martin nominated her for the "most changed student," it made her think about submitting her application for student speaker. The nomination meant a lot to Nickole because of how she began her journey at SPSCC.
“I started in the High School+ program," Nickole recalled. "It felt so good to finish [high school], I wanted to keep accomplishing things."
After earning her high school diploma, Nickole started working toward her Associate in Arts degree. She took advantage of I-BEST, a program where students build their English and math skills in pre-college level classes while also studying in college level classes.
Her ability to adapt and continue working toward her goals were themes she wove into her commencement speech in June, topics that Nickole knows a thing or two about.
A mother to three grown children over 18, Nickole dropped out of high school when she became a teen mom. In 2018—over two decades after she’d quit high school—she returned to school because her employer encouraged her to attain a high school diploma. Now, at age 39, the self-proclaimed late bloomer knows what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
Nickole is transferring to Saint Martin’s University to study literature and writing and, after that, her plan is to get an advanced degree and become a teacher. Her ultimate goal is for things to come full circle. After she earns her master’s degree, she hopes to return to SPSCC to teach in the ESL and I-BEST programs so she can once again be part of the place that helped her become the person she is today.
“I love SPSCC. Being a student here gave me meaning and a purpose,” she said. Nickole credits finding that purpose through the experiences she had with staff and faculty. “So many people are giving everything they have to see students succeed. It’s the true embodiment of what college should be: people in your corner.”
And, having that support helped her recognize what was possible. Even though she always considered herself a writer, she admits having her professors find value in her writing helped her form the larger goals she’s set for herself and gave her the confidence to pursue them.