Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Student success profile: Carin French finds inspiration at Grossmont College

Carin French

Carin French didn’t need to look far for inspiration when she was laid off from a well-paying management job in 2010. She looked toward Grossmont College.

“I have a strong attachment to Grossmont College because my mother came here when we were kids,” French recalled. “She was in her 30s and my dad was playing guitar in a rock band, so we weren’t exactly rich. My mom decided to get a degree, learn a profession and find job. I remember the rainbow of parking stickers on the back of our Volkswagen bus as she’d pull out of the driveway on her way to school. It was very inspiring.”

That inspiration has fueled French since she enrolled at Grossmont College as an unemployed 45-year-old in 2010. The Jamul resident will be heading to San Diego State University in the fall with a 3.53 GPA and an associate degree in University Studies: Social & Behavioral Sciences. Her accomplishments have earned her recognition as a Student of Note, an honor reserved for those who have overcome a plethora of challenges to reach their educational goals.

French is determined to earn a master’s degree, and perhaps a Ph.D., in child development or a related field and work as a child or family therapist.

She would be following in her mother’s footsteps. In fact, her mother secured bachelor’s and master’s degrees after leaving SDSU, and later taught child development at Grossmont College.

French enrolled in one of her classes.

“It was amazing,” French said. “I saw her in a way that I had never seen her before.”
It wasn’t French’s first time at Grossmont. She first enrolled at Grossmont College upon graduating from Santee’s Santana High School in 1987. “I was too busy partying,” quipped French. “I majored in beach and boys.”

She ended up dropping out and going to work in myriad jobs. But she worked hard and was a manager at a company that sold indoor doors when she was laid off due to downsizing at the firm.

That’s when French decided to give Grossmont College another try. “I really wanted a job where I could help people in a more meaningful way,” she said. “I saw what my mom had done, and I decided I was going to give it a shot.”

French said she is honored to have been recognized as a Student of Note, but feels a bit undeserving. “A lot of the other students who were recognized had to overcome a lot more challenges than I did,” she said. “We’re talking single parents, disabled residents, refugees. My life looks like a picnic compared to what they went through.”

She remains grateful to Grossmont College nonetheless. “It really is a great college. But no matter where you go, you’re education is only going to be as good as the effort you put into it.”