Rather than enrolling in college just after completing high school, Jose Valderrama decided to get some real-world experience and put in some time working for a marketing firm.
The result -- once he decided to pursue his education -- was a more focused student. It didn't hurt, either, that his sister had just graduated from NCC and that his mother is nearing her final semester as a college student. The Valderramas are making education a family affair.
"That they both went back was kind of a motivator for me," said Valderrama. "My brother is also a senior in college right now. I thought to myself, 'Let me actually try this.' I was able to get some financial aid, and from there it was perfect."
Valderrama eagerly threw himself into the marketing program, where students get a first-hand look at how a full-service advertising agency serves their clients. He then took the in-class skills he was gaining and, in his second semester, used his knowledge to write the constitution for what would become the first music club at the Monroe campus.
He then took an even greater leap - from club president, to school president.
"I like the helping others out and giving them an opportunity to enjoy college and being involved," says Valderrama. "[Former NCC President] Dr. [Art] Scott and a few teachers came up to me and said they thought I should run for president. I was thinking, 'Me?'. A few people told me they knew I could do it, so I began to believe that I could."
Valderrama has since learned that it takes a bit of juggling to balance his time between both the Monroe campus and the Main campus, where he now takes the bulk of his marketing courses. While he has found the campus to benefit from an abundance of diversity, he also believes that the tight-knit family feel at Monroe is part of what will continue to appeal to students who are looking for a more "involved" college experience.
"It's a group effort at the Monroe campus, and everyone is down to earth," Valderrama says. "I want them to grow and have more opportunities for student involvement. I've tried to handle the responsibilities of being the class president as a learning experience."
One of Valderrama's biggest supporters has come in the form of NCC President, Dr. Mark Erickson, who has made himself available on several opportunities for Valderrama to share conversation and ideas. This kind of openness between the college's staff and students has proven to be invaluable.
"With the time here, one of my major goals was to try to network as much as possible," says Valderrama. "I've met some really smart people who have some incredible views on the future."
Name: Jose Valderrama
Projected Graduation Date: 2013