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MJC honors Disability Services Student of the Year
DSPS Student of the Year 2015
Harriet has experienced many obstacles since having a stroke in 1997. The stroke impaired her ability to speak and also limited her ability to walk. She utilizes a motorized chair for mobility. In the midst of these challenges, Harriet proudly states, "I chose to rehabilitate myself. I live independently in my own apartment and do not rely on caregivers to take care of me."
Harriet has lived in the Modesto area for over 15 years. Prior to that, she lived in Puerto Rico for a period of ten years, working as a Facility Training Coordinator at a military hospital. Harriet is the proud mother of three sons who have blessed her with seven wonderful grandchildren.
Harriet graduated in the fall of 2014 with an A. A. degree in Social and Behavioral Science. When asked if she utilized Disability Services, she stated, "I used the services in every way that I could. I relied heavily on Chuck (Cipponeri) who did my academic program." She added, "Carol (La Rosa) was my lifeline for testing and also for providing information as to how to go about doing things on campus".
Harriet still needs to finish a couple classes and then she plans to transfer to CSU Stanislaus, where she will pursue a major in Psychology. Her dream job is to become a marriage and family counselor. Harriet said, "I have always had a natural ability in working with people. Psychology has always interested me."
DSPS Student of the Year 2014
At the tender age of five, Bunreth was struck by a truck and suffered a brain injury. He was paralyzed on his right side and had to learn to walk again. He also lost sight in his right eye and the hearing in his right ear. Due to the intensity of the accident, Bunreth also struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As a young man, Bunreth admittedly made some bad choices. He became an active gang member and although he is not proud of this time in his life, he was able to learn from his mistakes. By witnessing firsthand what gang involvement can do to young men and women, his dream job is to work as a counselor with troubled teens to help get them out of the system and into a better way of life. He wants them to understand that there is more to life than a world of gangs, drugs and the pursuit of money.
In 2005, Bunreth became a father to a beautiful son, Benjamin. At the time, he was living with his mom who had been diagnosed as bipolar. He was helping to take care of her and had to rely on the bus system for his transportation. When his son was four years old, Bunreth decided to enroll at Modesto junior College. During this time, Bunreth was also fighting for sole custody of his son, which he was finally granted in 2010! Sis a single father, Bunreth remembers walking his son to daycare at 6 a.m. every day, even in the rain, then catching a bus to get to school on time. He said, 'It was a battle balancing everything out, but I always put school as my main priority no matter what. I would sacrifice my whole day, everyday to get my school work done.' Bunreth proudly shared that he now has his own place and transportation.
As a result of his brain injury, memory and comprehension issues have plagued Bunreth's educational endeavors. He said, 'I am surprised to be graduating, because most of the time, I would not remember all of the lecture the teacher presented.' Although Bunreth faced and overcame many struggles physically and academically, he said, 'I accomplished what I set my goal to be, and that is to get my degree without any hesitation!'
Bunreth plans to further his education at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, He said, 'I want to thank the DSPS staff for giving me all the support throughout my educational journey. Thank you for everything!’
DSPS Student of the Year 2013
Nicole Sanchez is a very special young lady. She has had to overcome many obstacles throughout her life and school career. She relies on a sign language interpreter in order to “hear” her class lectures and to communicate with her instructors. Nicole was born hearing, but as a result of reoccurring high fevers, she became deaf at the age of 18 months. Her grandmother, who was a nurse, realized that Nicole was not responding appropriately to noises around her, so she decided to put it to the test and clanged some pans together behind Nicole’s back. Nicole didn’t flinch. Her grandmother’s fears were realized. At this tender young age… Nicole began her school career. During her high school years, she attended Fremont School for the Deaf. She received an award for her 3.5 GPA on two separate occasions. Towards the end of her senior year, Nicole married young and moved to Fresno, where she earned her high school diploma.
Being deaf has created many challenges for Nicole. Because she became deaf at such young age, her ability to acquire the English Language was very difficult for her. Her native language is American Sign Language (ASL) and her first actual sign was the sign for “apple”. ASL has its own grammar rules which can cause confusion when transitioning to written or spoken English. Nicole’s ability to successfully pass both English 49 and 50 is an outstanding accomplishment for an individual who is deaf.
When asked if she would change being deaf, she said, “No way… I am happy being deaf! I wouldn’t change it… even if I could!” Nicole is a mother of two. Her son Max is fourteen and her daughter, Maddy Rose is nine.
Nicole will be graduating with an A.S. degree in Culinary Arts. She has earned certificates in Culinary Arts, Food Safety and cake decorating. She loves to cook, but baking cakes is her real passion. She hopes to secure a job working in a school cafeteria or in a restaurant.
DSPS Student of the Year 2012
Each day we help students with a life or academic challenge. Here is an article on a success story! Shane entered MJC somewhat timid and uncertain of his abilities. He slowly explored his interest in computers. Now, he has enrolled in almost every computer class offered by MJC and started his own business. He will graduate this spring with an AS: Computer Information Systems (CIS) degree and Certificate: Computer Network Administrator. With his knowledge, attention to detail, and ethical nature he helped save the day for someone! Shane has a significant disability, however his focus is not upon his challenges. He uses his strengths and abilities to move forward in his life and is now confident he can independently support himself. Shane plans to transfer to CSU Stanislaus in fall 2013 to earn his BS degree in CIS.