Persistence pays off for 800+ Palo Alto students

Graduation Adviser, Aracely Reyes Bowling, advising History Education freshman Dani Rae Padilla about Padilla's degree plan.
Graduation Adviser Aracely Reyes Bowling walks History Education Freshman Dani Rae Padilla through her degree plan.

By Alyssa De La O
Pulse Staff Reporter

In Spring 2001, 200 Palo Alto College students received their associate’s degree. This Spring 2014, more than 800 students will graduate.

This year’s graduation will be held at the Freeman Coliseum, 3201 E. Houston St., on Saturday, May 17, at 2 p.m.

“I was scared at the beginning, but then I knew I could do it. You need to finish off what you started,” said Isabel Rosales, a Pre-Nursing sophomore.

Rosales said that her family supported her to get her through, and even though it took longer than two years to obtain her associate’s degree, she was determined to go the distance. She thanks Palo Alto for providing services like the Center for Academic Transitions and TRiO/Student Support Services for getting her this far in her education. She also said she is excited to be transferring to the University of The Incarnate Word to start nursing school in the Spring of 2015.

Graduation Adviser Aracely Reyes Bowling said students need to make consistent appointments with their faculty adviser to keep track of their degree plan and to complete their graduation audit.

“When students wait ‘til the last minute and rush to get things done, it’s harder for them to complete the graduation process,” said Bowling.

Bowling said that students should be on top of their degree plan, so that when it comes down to the student getting near their graduation date, they are ready to go.

Senior Coordinator for TRiO/Student Support Services Maria Rogers said that she has to remind students to keep up with their appointments so that they can successfully complete their degree.

“I would give two pieces of advice: one, everyone needs to apply for graduation; and two, be mindful of deadlines. I often have to inform and remind students that they need to apply and that the deadline is approaching,” Rogers said.

Financial Aid is now limited to the first six years of a student’s higher education, and sometimes students struggle by staying at Palo Alto longer than needed.

“Students should look at all the resources PAC has to offer and find their adviser to help them with their degree plan and their FAFSA. If they don’t do that, they can be taking the wrong classes and wasting their money,” Biomedical Science sophomore Jacob Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said when students speak with faculty, they become more aware of what is best for their degree plan.

Erika Walton, a senior Biology major, is a current student at Texas A&M–San Antonio, and a transfer student from Palo Alto in 2010, advises students to get involved on campus and talk to their faculty advisers.

“You have to build relationships and network. I would advise them to take charge of their degree plan. You have to keep up. They should be a part of the campus, so that they have the inspiration to succeed,” Walton said.

Walton also mentioned that the transition between community college to a university is a completely different experience, and that it is best to reach out to the advisers and counselors at PAC for an easier transition.

Liberal Arts sophomore Marissa De Leon, a dually enrolled student with Palo Alto and Texas A&M–San Antonio, said that interacting with faculty and staff has helped her have a great experience at Palo Alto.

“I really love this school. I know everybody. I’m more sad, and I’m going to miss it,” De Leon said.

For more information about graduation, visit the Palo Alto College Graduation webpage that gives you the steps to graduation and the faculty advisers’ contact information.

To contact Aracely Bowling, drop by her office in the Student Center, Room CSC-101. Her phone number is (210) 486-3133, and her email is areyes47@alamo.edu.

Palo Alto College’s Graduation Festival will be held in the Student Center Annex on Wednesday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., where graduates will pick up their caps and gowns and honor chords.