We asked SJC Graduates to give us a look into their personal insights and here is what we learned.

Overhead shot of SJC Graduation Ceremony

What we Asked our Grads*

  • Why did you choose San Juan College (SJC)?
  • Why did you choose your degree or certificate?
  • What was/is your favorite memory at San Juan College?
  • What was/is your favorite class?
  • What was your favorite place to study (on-campus or off-campus)?
  • Is there a special faculty or staff member who helped you in your journey?
  • How would you describe the support or resources at SJC?
  • How has SJC prepared you for your next step?
  • What advice would you give to new students at SJC?
  • What would you say is the best part about attending SJC?

Note: Not all students answered all 10 questions.

Samantha BellSamantha Bell
Associate of Applied Science Building Trades

1. I chose San Juan college for its proximity to me and affordable tuition!

2. I chose this degree path because I wanted to learn about something I was passionate about and it gave me the ability to help people.

3. My favorite memory at San Juan College was my time in Professor Pomeroy’s communications class. I have never laughed so wholeheartedly in my life than I did in that class! I learned to hone my communication skills and my ability to communicate clearly and with purpose — not just in public speaking but in my everyday life as well.

4. My favorite class had to have been the supervisor course in Building Trades. We were able to draw a complete set of blueprints of a house of our own design, and I loved every minute of drawing those plans.

5. My favorite place to study was in the Building Trades building. The general atmosphere of being surrounded by like-minded people was really inspiring even while working on things for my other classes.

6. Mr. Triplett, the Coordinator of Building Trades, inspired me to get my degree rather than certificates in the Building Trades program. He pushed me when I wanted to give up on something and allowed us to be creative when seeking solutions for a project. He helped me organize my schedules and has always been open to assist when I needed help.

7. The support staff at SJC really exemplifies the word support! I have never had a question go unanswered even when the answer was not immediately available.

8. I have learned so much about myself as a student at San Juan College. I have learned through trial and error where my strengths lie and what I can do to empower myself when I feel a mountain of pressure. I now feel I have no limitations in front of me. Opportunities are available everywhere you go if you are willing and able to put in the work to get there.

9. My best advice would be to surround yourself with laughter, meaningful work, and to remember to take a step back and appreciate yourself in what you have sought out to do. I decided to go to school at the age of 27. A fact I was once ashamed of. I feel such pride in myself and the work I have done and will continue to do. Whether I’m a college student or practicing in the field of my degree, I feel so fulfilled in the decisions I have made since attending San Juan College.

10. The best part about attending San Juan College is the diversity of people and staff. There is a place for EVERYONE at San Juan College


Alex DumontAlex Dumont
Career-Life Engagement and Readiness Certificate

1. San Juan College offered the CLEAR program, Career-Life Engagement and Readiness. CLEAR helped me gain employment and new friends.

2. The program offered job training and the support I need to be successful.

3. Making new friends and seeing old friends graduate.

4. CLEAR was my favorite class!

5. My favorite place to study was in Mary’s Kitchen.

6. Kymbr Mordecki, the Director for the CLEAR program was my favorite instructor.

7. SJC helped provide resources and support that I needed to become more independent.

8. After I graduated from CLEAR, I started a part-time job and now I’m looking for a full-time position with benefits, and live independently.

9. You might be nervous at first but eventually you gain more interaction with the new people you will meet. I now have some lifelong friends.

10. SJC helped me come out of my shell.

Iris Nigrin holding a hairless cat.Iris Nigrin
Associate of Applied Science Veterinary Technology

1. About 5 years ago I decided that I wanted to work as a veterinary technician. I wanted to attend an online program, because that way I could study at my own pace and still be able to be a mom and work at a vet clinic. I researched different online vet tech programs, and San Juan College usually had the best reviews.

2. I am originally from Germany, where I attended Law School and worked as an attorney. 15 years ago I came to the United States with my husband. I wasn’t able to work as an attorney here, and so I became a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. When my children were older, I decided that for the rest of my life I wanted to work in a field that I really liked. That’s why I chose to become a veterinary technician.

3. I really liked fast-track labs in Waco, Texas.

4. Anatomy & Physiology was my favorite class.

6. All my instructors and mentors were wonderful. I always had the feeling they wanted me to succeed. I especially want to thank Roxanne Tubbs for her support during video classes, Laura Black and Dr. Wright for their help in various classes and during fast track lab, and Alice Truillo and Sherry Hair for guiding me through the program.

7. I was always pleased with the support at SJC. There was always somebody who could answer my questions.

8. I think SJC prepared me very well for my next step, taking the VTNE and working as a veterinary technician. The program is very challenging, but I learned so much and it gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities.

9. Manage your time well, don’t take too many classes at once, ask questions and have fun!

10. I liked the freedom of studying at my own pace.


Michelle WoodMichele Wood
Associate of Applied Science- Off Highway Diesel, On Highway Diesel & Certificate-Diesel Mechanic Heavy Line

1. I chose San Juan College, because of the diesel technology program.

2. I used to be an aircraft mechanic, got tired of being laid-off because the company either went bankrupt or closed down. As a diesel tech, I can work for the same company until I retire.

3. My favorite memory was when I was able to remove a heavy diesel tire, and put it back on the truck, as well as learning how to set up and use a welder. Both skills were taught by Mike Tenski. Mike’s philosophy is “work smarter not harder.” He showed me numerous ways I can do things without straining my knee.

6. Claude Pence, Jason Hayes, and Mike Tensk were my favorite teachers.

7. The support here was awesome. Judy Hale was an excellent support, as well as many of the automotive tech instructors.

8. SJC (especially Mike Tenski) has prepared me for an entry level job as a diesel tech, where I can learn quickly and be able to do many tasks, that I never thought could be possible after having had a total knee replacement.

9. Don’t give up and stick with whatever career goal you have. Do not let any disability or other factors get in your way.

Valentina SanchezValentina Sanchez
Associate of Arts-Marketing

1. I came all the way from Bogotá, Colombia. Since my only family lives three hours away, I thought SJC was a good option to start my education in the USA without feeling so lonely.

2. It’s funny because I started as a Business degree student, but I knew I wanted to switch when SJC launched the marketing degree. I always thought that marketing is a great career and is necessary for every company.

4. My favorite class was website design. I really enjoyed experimenting with colors and features to create my brand and develop my website.

5. My favorite spot for studying on-campus was always the library. I used to love sitting next to the window and doing my homework. It was pretty cool.

6. Yes! I’ve been so lucky to have wonderful people who helped me whenever I needed it, like Arely Caro, Marina Heras, and other people at the Herencia Latina Center In addition, I counted on incredible professors like Annette Abend, who guided me throughout this process.

7. I love how many resources we have as students. I had the opportunity to compare my home country’s college resources and SJC resources, and I’m impressed with the number of workshops, talks, tutoring, and centers we have.

8. I’m taking the last course of my program, which consists of meeting with my professor to help me out with the next step after graduating. I can’t be more grateful for this course because it helps with all the pressure that comes with “what am I going to do after I graduate?” Thanks to these meetings, I feel supported and more and more ready to continue achieving my goals.

9. My advice is to enjoy the process, take advantage of all the resources, find supportive people, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, and learn how to manage your time.

Kayla MichaelsKayla M. Michaels
SJC High School Diploma and Associate of Science - Pre-Pharmacy

2. I have been wanting to go into pharmacology since I was too young to really even understand what it was. I started working toward a chemistry degree, but as soon as the pre-pharm was added to SJC, I knew I had to take it.

4. Anatomy and Physiology would have to be my ultimate class at SJC. It is fascinating to see how the body really works, and it was a class that I feel like I understood quite well.

6. Our college advisor, Abby Calcote, has been very helpful over the years. She let me know the degree was available at SJC. She knew that’s what I wanted to do, and any time I came to her with any issues, she was always there to listen.

7. The Tutoring Center has been beyond helpful. The support amongst teachers and staff in general is also very amazing.

10. Being able to be so integrated with campus life while still in high school has made me feel so prepared. The transition from middle school to SJCHS was difficult, but it’s making the transition to college so much easier, which is way more important to me.

Brandon Fercik standing with Trio Center and KSJE Staff membersBrandon Fercik
Associate of Arts-Business Administration Certificate-General Education

1. I chose San Juan College because it was close to home and affordable. The location and the price of San Juan College allowed me to attend school full time and make school my primary focus.

2. I chose my degree because I plan to open my own business, where people can be innovative without fear of failure.

3. My favorite memory at SJC is helping TRIO and KSJE out with the Block Party in the fall of 2021. It was such a blast to see the campus lit up with life and celebration.

4. My favorite class has to be Principle of Marketing with Murdoch Maloney. Taking marketing at SJC has helped me decide that I want to major in marketing at a four-year institution.

5. My favorite place to study is my office at KSJE or at the TRIO Center.

6. There have been so many special people who have helped me through this journey. First and foremost, I want to thank Yolanda Benally and the entire TRIO Center and staff for providing such a wonderful place to be. I want to thank Scott Michlin at KSJE for being a great boss. Finally, I want to thank Alyssa Wagner for always generously lending her ear in troubling times. You all made my time at SJC such a blessing and a wonderful experience.

7. The support that SJC has provided me with has truly been a lifesaver. The college is full of people who want to see you succeed and will help you in any way possible to better your life academically and personally.

8. SJC has prepared me for the next step by providing me with life skills such as time management, decision making, interpersonal communication, active listening, and critical thinking. SJC is an institution that provides graduates with skills and experiences they will carry with them throughout their life.

9. Advice that I would give new students at SJC is to be open to new experiences and meeting new people. Embrace your time here you’ll enjoy it so much more and you’ll be graduating before you know it!

10. The best part about attending San Juan College is the environment and the people. SJC is such a beautiful campus and is full of beautiful people with unique perspectives on life!

Evelin SalasEvelin Salas
Associate of Arts – Marketing

1. I chose SJC because it is located in an area I have lived in for over a decade. I began my post-secondary education immediately after graduating high school. At the time I had not taken into consideration completing online classes, much less a degree. My first semester at SJC was in person, it would be my first and last due to the pandemic. If I were to tell myself that I’d complete a degree completely online I would not have believed it.

2. This degree is closely related to activities I already enjoy doing that involve social media and online work. I actually changed career paths once or twice before I found out Marketing was and is for me.

3. The therapy dogs at the Sun Lounge were one of my favorite memories. They really helped out during the stressful midterms season.

4. My favorite class is a tie between Psychology and Spanish. I appreciate the way the professors were able to create a fun and comfortable environment to learn. They were encouraging in many ways. I was able to let go of my “shyness” and communicate well with other classmates. A lot of activities were hands-on, educational and memorable.

5. There are a lot of areas to study across campus more so than at home. But as a remote student, I learned to study at home. If your space is well cultivated and it makes you feel at peace, you are likely to study well in any area remotely or in person. However, on campus, the library is the most relaxing area to study.

6. A quality that every single professor has had without fail is the true desire to teach. With the short amount of time that professors and students have together, they want to see everyone succeed. Annette Abend has gone above and beyond to help me in multiple classes I have had with her. She is able to teach and communicate well without it being a face-to-face course.

7. The facility and staff members are always eager to help out in any way they can.

8. I am grateful that I began my journey here at SJC. Through the courses and certificates I have earned, I was able to learn so much more about my degree. I was able to prepare myself for the workforce and I know that if I wanted to I could continue my education anywhere.

9. My advice to future students… take advantage of the college resources. I was one of those students that did not have the privilege to enjoy many on-campus activities for long because of the pandemic. I believe with courage any individual that is up for the challenge can create deep connections or a group of classmates you can rely on.

10. As a community college, it is easy to seek out specific help you need without the competitive nature of a big campus and a large amount of alumni.

Sloan TafoyaSloan Tafoya
SJC High School Diploma and Associate of Science—Pre-Pharmacy General Education Certificate

1. Ever since my first biology class at SJC, pharmacy seemed to be the path for me. I loved understanding how cells worked to fight pathogens or maintain homeostasis, and I wanted to apply it to health. When I heard about this program that would prepare me for the College of Pharmacy at UNM, I knew it was perfect. The collaboration between SJC and UNM made for a perfect plan.

4. My favorite class was Anatomy and Physiology with Dr. Evans. This was truly the class where I felt I was applying my love for biology to health in the real world. Additionally, her teaching style was incredible, and I thoroughly enjoyed the class despite it being over Zoom.

5. 6. My favorite place to study is the SJC Library. I enjoy the silence because I can focus better on the tasks at hand.

My college liaison at SJCHS, Abby Calcote, has definitely helped me the most. From emailing me updates on the program, to answering my questions for the 3rd time that week, Abby has been with me every step of the way in this degree plan. I truly feel that she has my best interest at heart.

7. The support from both SJCHS and SJC is spectacular. At every turn, there’s someone ready and willing to help you. The tight-knit community at SJCHS helps me feel like I have an entire family behind me, supporting me. I’m grateful for the kind and welcoming office staff. As for SJC, I think our community is blessed to have such amazing professors and tutors. I’ve been constantly supported by a great staff.

10. The best part about SJCHS is the tight-knit community. Your fellow students, the teachers, and the office staff all feel like family. Suddenly, high school isn’t a thing to endure, but rather a journey to embark upon. The best part about attending SJC is knowing that help is offered everywhere. From the financial literacy classes, to the counseling services and Tutoring Center, there are people who will help you in anything you need. And simply knowing that those resources are constantly available to you makes you feel safe, included, and supported.