Brian Gonzalez considers NCC to be his second chance at making something of himself. As someone who says he lacked direction throughout high school and only decided late in his senior year that his career focus should be in law enforcement, Gonzalez credits NCC with giving him a place where he's truly found "a direction and passion for the future."
"I have support here from everybody. I feel like I'm part of a family here," says Gonzalez. "Vertel (Martin, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice) has given me the most guidance and is my biggest influence here. It wasn't always what she said to me, personally, about the future steps I can take; it was her raw explanation of the career and what it is, giving me the good and the bad of what I'm going into."
Honesty about the factors that may hinder him in the future is something that Gonzalez has been receiving both in and out of the classroom. His father was a corrections officer for 16 years and pointed him toward doing anything except going into the law enforcement field. For Gonzalez, however – who served as both a youth camp counselor and in a local security job – constructive criticism about the field is driving him toward it instead of away from it. His desire to become a police officer is stronger than ever.
"If, after hearing every single hindering factor of why I shouldn't do something, I can then say that I still want to do it…that's how I know that's what I truly want," says Gonzalez. "This all stems from my passion for working with people. Even from bad attitudes to good attitudes, I like to start fresh every day and not judge the people around me. I just love to help people."
Gonzalez currently serves as the newly-elected president of the criminal justice club, where he's enjoyed the opportunity to help select scholarship recipients. He also works closely with his peers in coordinating study groups and getting help with larger assignments and projects. One of the biggest lessons he's learned is that less procrastination is the key to balancing his school work with his job and his personal priorities.
"I tend to always put pressure on myself. Like most people, if you don't put pressure on yourself, you may still procrastinate," Gonzalez says. "Now, I work ahead and write papers or finish assignments sometimes well before they're even due. That's a big relief off of my mind. Taking advantage when teachers offer extra credit opportunities can also play a lot into my grades sometimes."
Gonzalez will be transferring to East Stroudsburg University, where he plans on pursuing a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He also hopes to eventually work on pursuing a master's degree by starting courses online, but for now, his goal is to finish at NCC and move on with his training. He's also grateful to have had time at the new campus, which has given him quiet places to study and focus.
"Going from the old campus to this campus is something I'll never be able to show enough appreciation for," says Gonzalez. "This is a place where not only did they give us a new school, but they gave us an entirely new atmosphere."