Recently, while assisting students during Peak Registration at the CCBC Catonsville campus, I began to think about my own first encounter with CCBC.

Looking at my college options online, CCBC had been one of the first colleges I had applied to and received acceptance from. I had read and heard a lot about the college from the many marketing campaigns. After one local community college, CCBC had been the only college campus I had ever visited. So, there were many other steps that I was confused about. I have had a long break between high school and attending college and getting reoriented to the college process was quite difficult at times.

Okay, so I registered. What’s next?

The CCBC website stated that we should meet with an academic advisor and take the placement testing prior to enrollment in classes. Sounded simple enough. But…

Who will pay for it?

Finances were the biggest hurdles I had to overcome prior to enrollment. Naturally, the next course of action would have been to visit the Financial Aid office. But I did not have the opportunity to meet a student ambassador who would have been able to share their experiences as a student. I really wanted to meet any student to hear about their experiences at CCBC.

In fact (I admit), the entire college atmosphere was a bit too overwhelming. The classical perception of community colleges is that they are meant for returning students: independent students like me who are joining a college community after a long break for a variety of reasons. And, to be fair, I did see more “older” students than the younger ones. But no matter the type of students at CCBC – which is actually home to an assortment of ages and diversities – one bond unites all: support.

For instance, I had the full support of my family in my educational endeavors and I was privileged to put those concerns aside for the moment. After meeting with the most amazing Ms. Megan Molitoris, an academic advisor at CCBC Catonsville, I was able to sort out preliminary issues with International Students Office and the Testing Center. After meeting with Mr. Derrick Little, a financial administrator, at a financial aid workshop (I was the only participant – would you believe it!?), I was able to get my FAFSA stuff in order. And after meeting with my professors, deans, and department coordinators, I was able to reinforce my commitment to my program of study.

It seems so easy to say all of this now, when I am excelling as a student and on my way to the Spring semester as I work on obtaining my associate’s in applied science (or transferring beforehand? I am unsure). But I had to encounter many difficulties. I was lost. I was confused. I was unsure. In fact, there were times I even doubted if CCBC really was a place for me. Not all was rosy.

But in the end, what all of this was were insecurities. I had not really had the chance to see college for myself. I do now. I know CCBC pretty well by now and I am always happy to meet more students and faculty and see how people are willing to assist and support each other.

That’s what should matter in a college: support. We all come from our own personal trials and failures. But we are inherently an incomplete story, as one person recently reminded me. As we are chronicling our lives and imagining where we will be five or ten years from now, our wildest imaginations may fail us. The world changes. We do too. We should be there for each other to lend a helping hand.

As I smiled at the students and visitors rolling in the Enrollment and Student Services center and asked how I may help, when a student smiled, I smiled. In fact, I encountered more sighs of relief than expressions of frustration. Someone – a potential student, an anxious parent, a lost elderly – now knew that there will be support. With that support, they will be on their way to benefiting from all that CCBC offers.

That powerful realization was what motivated me to stand for hours in the Student Services center and represent CCBC as an ambassador and a student. So when someone said, “I need help!” I was more than happy to answer the call.