Student Testimonials

Photo of TerranceHello my name is Terrance. I am a first generation college student. I grew up on the Avenue section of Ventura. Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be a musician. I decided the best way to achieve this goal was to go to college. I chose Ventura College because I felt that it would give me the best opportunity to transfer to a 4yr University. I am currently finishing my second semester at Ventura College as a Music major. My overall goal at VC is to be well prepared to transfer to CSUN (Cal State, University of Northridge), or UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). Both universities have excellent music programs that would be beneficial to my overall growth. 

I joined FYE after reading about the program in a student newsletter. The program seemed good on the surface and I figured there really wouldn't be anything to loose and a lot to gain from a program like this. They offered to check in with students to make sure they are on track with their goals, peer networking, activities and so much more. However, what I have found to be the most helpful is the endless amount of information they give that helps a student navigate their way through college. As first generation college student, this was the jewel of the program. 

I would definitely encourage a student who is considering joining the FYE program to join. This program can offer things that a normal student wouldn't even know they need. I feel that I am ahead of my peers by joining this program. I believe that a program like this should be a requirement rather than an option. 


Image of Berenice CastanedaMy name is Berenice Castañeda, I have lived in Oxnard my whole life. My father is an agricultural worker and my mother is a housewife. They never finished school because they were always trying to make ends meet. My sisters and I will be the first generation to fulfill the American Dream. We will  also be able to be economically stable and not struggle through life the way my parents did. I have decided to go to Ventura College for two years and transfer to a university with an ADT in Mathematics. I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in math because I value education. I've joined many programs such as FYE, MESA and EOPS because it helps me with resources and has kept me informed about various opportunities, such as internships and scholarships. FYE has helped me get to know VC. I have learned about financial assistance, tutoring and creating my educational plan for transfer. I would recommend joining FYE if you want to connect with VC resources and develop a transfer plan. I want to help make new students first-year experience a  great one by becoming an FYE peer leader.


​I’m Raeal Woodfork, a 39 year old student in my second semester here at VC. I grew up in Ventura County attending several local High Schools. Those days were pretty traumatic for a kid trying to figure herself out, who she is and where she belongs.  I’m currently working on my A.S. in Natural Science. My last job was working in politics for a lobbyist group, but due to health issues I was forced to leave the company. The driving force behind my returning to school after 22 years in the work force was money.  While I was still employed by the lobbyist group, a women was hired to manage over my position. She worked half my hours and made three times my pay since she had a B. A.    degree. My plan is to obtain both an Associates and Bachelor’s degree in the sciences. I joined FYE after my group counselor made the suggestion during the first on-campus orientation. The morning of the FYE orientation I really didn’t want to bother getting out of bed so early with one week until school began.  Understanding there were limited spaces and I was occupying one of them forced me to get out of bed. I’m so glad I joined. One week before the fall semester started, I knew all the student services available, their locations and the heads of each department. I also knew were my classes were located and borrowed three of the four books I needed for the semester from the VC    lending library. Additionally, I walked away with a group of people I could call friends, making the prospects of school less intimidating.  I’ve connected with VC in ways I never thought possible. I have made amazing friends and have been privileged to take classes where my professors truly care about my    success. Academically, I am very busy and would like the opportunity to    connect more with VC. Since I have this newsletter as an outlet I’d like to     encourage more students to join the FYE program. It gives you an edge over other freshmen students. The counseling staff are extremely friendly and  helpful beyond words. During my FYE counseling sessions I’ve had questions          answered that I didn’t even know I had.


Hello my name is Christian Viveros. I am a 29 year old Hispanic male. Born and raised here in Ventura County. I am a proud Ventura College student. A little about myself, I am first generation college student, my parents came to this country in order to give a brighter future to their children. I am the middle child of three and grew up in a rough neighborhood. My parents taught me good morals and always wanted a good education for my siblings and I. Unfortunately, financial means were an issue and my parents weren’t fortunate enough to understand how community college works. I ended up not doing too good in high school so I attended adult school and succeeded by obtaining my G.E.D.

Forwarding to now, I denied myself higher education for 11 years not giving myself a chance to become a more productive member of society. So I came to VC to see what I could find that would peak my interest. A couple of years ago I discovered the art of welding. I have always been fascinated by art and structures. Welding is a form of art and it comes into play when a structure is being erected. I fell in love with the process so I came to VC where welding is available. I am seeking a degree in welding. I didn’t know what I was going to do on the first day of school, so I decided to ask about any resources that I could help me get a tour of the college. I was told about Freshman Year Experience, the title said it all.

I was joining college as a freshman and would be able to benefit from this group. I came in a little nervous but soon let myself be guided by the peer leaders that were friendly and made me feel comfortable from the start. I met lots of people that were younger than me but I soon learned that age wasn’t an issue, we all have one thing in common and this is getting a higher education. I want to have fun doing what I do and gain financial stability. I now see a lot of the students who I met while in the FYE and feel comfortable in this environment. I learned about campus resources and how to get around campus. I learned about tutoring through my FYE counselor. I gained friends through this experience and always look forward to running into them on or off campus. Joining FYE as the best decision I made during the summer. The benefits of what I learned are going to help me now and in the future. 

I would suggest that you give FYE a try. I did and look at me now, attesting to its benefits. I am blessed with good friends and got to meet lots of faculty, so when I do have a question I can simply ask my friends and my instructors. It will be a learning experience you will not regret.   


Adrian and Samuel Ponce are twin brothers from Santa Paula, California.  They attended Santa Paula High School and decided to join FYE because they wanted to get a head start, make new friends, and experience the college lifestyle before the fall semester began.  Samuel’s plan is to  major in Psychology and transfer to a four-year university.  He was inspired by his former high school teacher to become a psychology or sociology high school teacher or a high school guidance counselor. He wants to help guide students that are in need of direction.  When asked how FYE has helped him transition into his first year of college Samuel stated, “FYE has helped me LOVE my first semester of college. I am inspired to become a future FYE peer leader.  FYE is the best opportunity you’ll ever have in preparation for your first semester at VC”. 

Adrian’s plan, while at VC, is to major in Political Science and  transfer to a four-year university to complete his bachelor’s degree.  Adrian also wants to join the U.S.  Army Reserve, “I want to be a Santa  Paula representative and represent my home from afar”.  Adrian’s ultimate career goal is to be able to work for the United Nations.    Adrian recommends FYE to  incoming students, “If you love meeting new people and want to      become confident on the first day of college then FYE is the right program for you”.  Adrian has joined ASVC and  Samuel has joined EOP&S at Ventura College. They’ve been active participants in Feed a Pirate, which is a program at VC that donates food to students and their families. Adrian is currently serving as curriculum committee student representative on campus.  Samuel ended his interview with this piece of advice, “They say high school are the best years of your life, I disagree. In college you have the opportunity to chase your dreams, meet amazing people and learn more about yourself. Stay hungry, always push yourself”. GO PIRATES!!!


Hi! I’m Grace Reilley and this is my first year at Ventura College. I was raised in Fillmore but Ventura is soon making itself my second home. 

I had the great opportunity to be in FYE, learning what VC has to offer and allowing me to become more comfortable with the people and the campus.  In FYE I was informed about a group on campus called ASVC which is the student government for Ventura College.

I joined ASVC, being appointed to Public Relations Director. I have a wonderful time and recommend it to anyone who is interested in improving the VC student’s experience.

While at VC, I plan to focus on working towards my associates degree and then transferring to a four-year university where I will major in Marine Biology.

For many years I have always been intrigued by deep sea fish and organisms and I hope that someday I can study them up close and personal. My family is very supportive towards my major and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.


Hello my name is Jessica Gomez. I am a freshman at Ventura College, and I would like to share my journey to my path at Ventura College. But first I would like to take some time to talk about myself. I was born in Ventura, CA, but never  actually lived there. I have been living in Oxnard, CA all my life. I went to Pacifica High School and I am the third child in my family to go to college. I have played sports since I was five years old. I started with softball, but soon found my love for volleyball. My love of sports has followed me all through my school career and I hope it will continue. I've been a student athlete since 7th grade, and I would say playing sports has made me a more responsible student, for it helps me keep good grades because in order to play you must have the grades. I would say that ever since I've been in high school I have struggled to find my "calling in life" so to say; I have crossed paths with many different options, but I came to the conclusion that I love helping people. I am strong, independent, and I have patience to put others   safety first. I have what it takes to be a good nurse. I want to become a registered nurse with specialty options in midwife or cardiovascular nursing. My educational goal is to excel in all of my classes and to transfer to UCLA or UCI. 

I joined FYE in hopes of finding my starting path for my future, and I can sure say the FYE program has helped me with a great jump start. Not only has it helped me plan for the future, it has made me encounter many great students and friends that are in the same journey as I am. If someone is looking for an educational and career plan, connect with resources and make great friends I would definitely encourage you to join the FYE program.


Hello my name is is Moussa Aboueid and I was born in  Kuwait City, Kuwait. I was raised in a Syrian family and I speak Arabic, English, and Spanish. What makes me different from any other person is my motivation, hunger, and strive to be the best. I am an independent man out in the real world. Growing up with parents not knowing English was a difficult task for me when I needed help. Tackling 19 units during the fall and spring semester has kept me motivated. I want to get A’s in all of my courses. I'm a first generation college student. My parents lived in Syria (born and raised) and were able to graduate high school to pursue jobs. My mother in the agriculture field and father as a Mechanic. I went to Buena High School and graduated in 2015. My short term goals are to live with my parents and go to a community college while maintaining my job. I am on an all-star soccer team and I wish to remain on that team throughout college. My academic goal is to transfer to a UC, preferably UCLA. I want to get a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. My current career goal is to continue to get experience through internships and contribute to my community by tutoring and mentoring. I am currently a tutor for AVID. I work with students in the Ventura Unified. I’m also a Ventura college English tutor. I love teaching others. I am driven and want to give back to my community by helping future generation of engineers. I found out about FYE through group counseling and colleagues.  FYE helped me target my goals academically through tutoring and financial aid. My message to all is to participate in clubs and organizations so that you can to increase your social skills and even your grades. Getting involved in programs like FYE you are guaranteed support and resources (academically, financially, career goals).