Like a lot of teens trying to find their way, Ben Lawson was unsure of his future upon graduating from Ormskirk High School in Liverpool, England. He found his path more than 5,000 miles away at Cuyamaca College.
“This campus opens you up to a lot of options,” said Lawson, 23. “Once you find what you want, everything is here to get you started and on your way.”
A skilled fullback with the Ashton Town F.C. soccer team but wanting to explore options outside of playing the sport, Lawson moved with a friend to Thousand Oaks near Los Angeles to give coaching a try shortly upon earning his high school diploma. After meeting his girlfriend, who was attending California State University Channel Islands in nearby Camarillo, he resolved that enrolling in college would be his best bet.
With his girlfriend graduating and moving back home to San Diego County, Lawson looked into the higher education opportunities in the area. The decision, though, was easy.
“Four-year college was out because of the cost,” Lawson said. “So I did a lot of research into the community colleges, and Cuyamaca seemed like an awesome fit for me. The options for students are almost endless. The class sizes are so small. The resources are ample, it’s in a beautiful area of San Diego, and the campus is just gorgeous.”
Lawson enrolled nearly three years ago. For the past 18 months, he’s served as a student ambassador, regularly visiting local high schools and selling them on what Cuyamaca has to offer. His pitch: “Don’t be scared of what you want to do. This campus opens you up to a lot of options. Once you find what you want, everything is here to get you started.”
Lawson, who’s wrapping up his final semester at the Rancho San Diego campus, is on track to earn an associate degree in real estate this spring. He’s contemplating either transferring to San Diego State University or moving back to England with his girlfriend, with whom he has now been with for more than four years.
His long-term goal: to run his own real estate investment firm.
“Real estate is something that never goes out of style,” he said. “Everybody will always need a place to live or work.”
Which is why he landed an internship at Keller Williams Realty in La Mesa last fall. Joe O’Meara, a Realtor at the office, praised Lawson’s professionalism.
“He’s the type of person you only have to give directions to once,” O’Meara said. “Ben is a pro. He was always there on time, never late, always willing to do more than what was asked. He was a valuable asset and we’d love to have him work for us in the future. He did a great job of representing Cuyamaca College.”
Indeed, the Real Estate Program at Cuyamaca College is designed to help students prepare for work in myriad specialties and can lead to either an associate degree or certificate in real estate. Courses fill the educational requirements for the California Real Estate Salesperson and Broker’s licenses.
“The real estate program here is remarkable,” Lawson said. “It has a wide range of diverse offerings that will prepare you for anything from sales, to broker, to finance officer, to appraiser, mortgage lender, you name it. Once you lay down what you want to do, the school lays down a pathway for you to follow,” he said.