It has always been a dream of Health Science student, Alejandro Villacenor, to go to college.
Growing up in Caldwell, Idaho, Villacenor saw his parents and family members work in field labor throughout the hot summers. During his upbringing, his parents always encouraged him to stay in school and work hard in his studies so he could have a life that didn’t involve working in the heat or living paycheck to paycheck. He watched how hard his parents worked each day to provide a good life for him and his family and wanted to make them proud. He knew the way to do that was by going to college.
After finishing up his first year at College of Western Idaho (CWI), Villacenor believes he has made the right choice to pursue a degree at the College because of its affordability and the many opportunities already presented for him.
“I have accomplished much more than I could have ever imagined, and this is just the start,” said Villacenor.
One of those opportunities was participating in the College’s Honor Program, which propels students into leadership roles by engaging them in academic, social, and civic opportunities. Villacenor joined because he wanted to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who could help motivate and support him along his educational journey.
“The Honors Program has prepared me for college by giving me a small community where I can turn to if I ever need help as well as providing resources on how to navigate the college experience.”
In addition to having a community of students supporting him and his educational goals, Villacenor knows he has faculty members in the Honor Program whom he can rely on.
“The Honor Program instructors are great and very helpful. I know Honors Program Advisor, Michal Yadlin, would go out of her way to help me with anything I needed. She is very diligent in making sure we are all doing okay and if we need help with anything.”
Villacenor has also been able to network outside of the classroom from his involvement in the Program. He was invited to events such as CWI Nights at the Idaho Steelheads to meet with College leadership and donors, and Opening Doors Benefit to sit at President Gordon Jones’ table.
“CWI has allowed me to not only grow in education but as a person overall.”
The Program has also helped him find his passion in life — physical therapy. Having always enjoyed working out and finding how the body works fascinating, Villacenor realized, with Yadlin’s help, he could turn this interest into a career by becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant through CWI, and then go on to pursue his Ph.D. in Physical Therapy and become a licensed Physical Therapist.
“I want to use my knowledge to help people become the best version of themselves they can be.”
Villacenor recommends those who qualify for the Program apply for it because the opportunities are limitless, and it will bring them experiences that will elevate their education and find their journey to a career.
“I have accomplished goals that I can truly say I am proud of and excited to share with others my experience.”
To be in the Honors Program, a student must be a first-time, full-time (12 credits) degree-seeking student, complete 13 credits of honors-designated courses with a C or higher, maintain a 3.25 GPA per term, be involved in community events around CWI, and more.
Applications for CWI’s Honors Program are currently being accepted through Tuesday, Aug. 15. Honors Program students receive a $1,000 scholarship.