All three alumni articles were written by Lauren Rosenthal, a Moorpark College student and student worker with the Ventura County Community College District.
Before Mersedeh Kolyaei joined the Moorpark College (MC) family, she worried that her dreams of attending UCLA and working in the medical field wouldn’t happen. Now she is a UCLA graduate, a West Coast Doctor of Pharmacy candidate and an intern at CVS Pharmacy. She says her time at MC was fundamental to her accomplishments and helping her create an unforgettable career path.
“As an immigrant, it seemed a little hard to reach goals and make dreams come true. That is, until I attended Moorpark College,” she said. Mersedeh emigrated from Iran eight years ago and began taking biology classes at MC as a junior in high school.
In addition to her interest in medicine and biology, Mersedeh discovered her passion for anthropology at MC. “I fell in love with anthropology as a science that saw humans as a whole and not just biological beings, which is sometimes what is lacking in other pre-med majors,” she explained. Professor John Baker and Professor Andrew Kinkella inspired her with their vast knowledge of anthropology and their passion for the subject.
Mersedeh soon learned how to apply her love for anthropology to her pre-med ambitions, and devoted herself not just to her studies but to student advocacy.
In 2015, she founded and became president of the Peer Health Club at MC. Her responsibilities included connecting students in pre-health majors and providing her peers with career and resume-building opportunities. She was elected the Associated Students of Moorpark College (www.moorparkcollege.edu/as Director of Student Organizations in 2016, where she acted as a liaison between the student body and clubs and voted on policy regarding college affairs.
“My time at MC supported my career choices and helped me build a foundation that got me to where I am, and I am forever grateful for everyone who helped me. No one at MC says your dreams are too big. Everyone helps you along and always makes goals and dreams reachable.”
Mersedeh’s goals for the future shine even brighter than her current accomplishments. She prepares for the long-term and plans out her aspirations for the next 10 years. After interning at CVS Pharmacy, she would like to do a residency in either oncology or infectious disease. Then she would continue working at CVS, go back to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she interned at previously, or start working at Amgen.
Her ultimate goal, though, is to open a pharmacy where she can provide chemical and herbal medications to her patients.
Marcos Rodriguez Hurtado visited Oxnard College (OC) for the first time when he was in third grade. Only five minutes away from his home, OC was the first college campus he had ever set foot on and he was impressed. His most vivid memory from the tour was of the Letters and Science Building and seeing a stadium classroom.
Even at 9 years old, choosing to one day attend Oxnard College was a “no-brainer,” said the OC alum who is now a Student Services Specialist at the college where he oversees the Welcome Center.
“Entering Oxnard College, I did not know what career path I wanted. I just knew education was transformative,” he said.
When he enrolled at OC, Marcos’s career path was far from certain. However, he soon found inspiration. Marcos dedicated part of his time to working at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, helping students achieve their goals and forming a foundation upon which he could build his career. Influenced by the fulfilling nature of working with students, Marcos decided to expedite his efforts to obtain his associate degree.
“Being a first-generation college student at OC empowered me to believe in myself,” shared Marcos. “While taking classes I learned that it’s never too late to accomplish your educational goals and when you put your mind to it, almost everything is possible. Although completing my education came with a lot of sacrifices, OC gave me the opportunity to learn at my pace.”
Marcos transferred to Cal State Channel Islands, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. To further his dream of becoming a professor, Marcos took up substitute teaching and learned that his career goals lay in education.
Marcos still felt the lasting impression OC had made on him and was waiting for the day he could return. He joined OC in 2019 and enjoys helping students who remind him of himself, and he feels he has come full circle by helping others achieve their own academic success.
You can connect with Marcos to learn more about his experience at OC and how to navigate OC today by contacting the Welcome Center at oxnardcollege.edu/departments/student-services/welcome-center.
Alexander Rock Fredell’s love for the arts has long shined brightly. His aspirations were already well underway before he attended Ventura College (VC), but without VC he wouldn’t have realized the crucial communal influence of his work, he said.
“I learned many things at VC. However, if I had to name one that I felt was the most important, it would be that community builds relationships, and relationships create opportunities,” said Alexander Rock, who is the marketing, communications and web design coordinator at the District Office. (He joined the District Office this summer after five years working at Ventura College.)
“Until I attended Ventura College, I never thought that I could leave such a positive impact from the work that I was doing. VC showed me that whatever it is that I work toward, I will be able to make a difference for the better.”
Alexander Rock’s experience at VC highlights the versatile and essential nature of our community college system. He was established in his career in freelance design and media when he decided to enroll at VC in 2014. He decided to go back to school because he felt that having a higher education would be of value, an attainable goal, and help him in his path of working in the arts.
At the college, he quickly learned not just to fit in, but to use the wide range of resources offered to expand his academic experience. Alexander Rock became involved in the Ventura College History Association and was president of the group in 2016.
Following four years of pursuing his passion at VC, Alexander Rock earned associate degrees in studio arts, art history, history, and arts & humanities.
In 2018, Alexander Rock transferred to California State University, Northridge to pursue his bachelor’s degree in graphic design and history. While he is accomplished in many areas of art, Alexander Rock focuses mostly on graphic design, photography and digital media.
He will graduate May 2021 and is committed to continuing his education to obtain a master’s degree.
“No matter the challenges, I truly believe that through higher education, you can do anything, change the world and make things happen!”