Thursday, January 9, 2020

Cuyamaca College student Jonathan Reyes: A promising future

Jonathan Reyes
Jonathan Reyes wasn’t thinking much about his long-term educational plans until he heard about the tuition-free Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise during his senior year in high school. Cuyamaca College was just a few miles from his home in Spring Valley, so he enrolled. 
Now he’s an outreach ambassador promoting Cuyamaca College to high school students throughout the East County. 
What does he tell them? 
“That it’s a chill place,” Reyes said. “It’s really welcoming, it’s really easy to get along with people, the education is excellent, the professors are really engaging, there’s a 100 percent acceptance rate and it’s essentially free.” 
Born in Oxnard and raised primarily in San Diego County, Reyes graduated from Mt. Miguel High School in the spring of 2018. Although he played trumpet in the marching band, took part in the theatre program and enrolled in JROTC, Reyes said what he was really good at was procrastination – which didn’t earn him the best of grades. “I got mostly C’s, with an occasional A or B,” he said. 

Money, too, was an issue. Reyes is one of seven siblings. His parents divorced a decade ago and his mom works as a receptionist at Sharp Hospital. Then came the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise program. 
“I was able to get two free years through the Promise program, and really made the difference.” 
It didn’t take long for him to get involved on campus, first through the Cuyamaca College Pathway Academy, a program formerly known as the First Year Experience that is designed to build a clear and quicker path to a student’s educational goal, then as a Cuyamaca College Outreach Ambassador. Reyes has been working as an outreach ambassador since the summer, visiting high schools and promoting Cuyamaca at college fairs. 
Reyes was honored with the Richard DeCrane Native Community Leaders Scholarship by the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges – which will help him cover the costs of books and school supplies – at a Jan. 11 awards ceremony. 
Reyes has left an impression on his coworkers and supervisors, in addition to the high school students he meets. 
“He is one of the friendliest, people I’ve ever met,” said Student Success Coordinator Jessica Murguia. “He’s always the first to step up whenever you’re looking for someone to do something and he’s quick to take the initiative. It’s just refreshing to work with him.” 
Now he’s thinking about transferring to San Diego State University to study mechanical engineering. He is set to graduate from Cuyamaca College in the spring of 2021 with an associate degree in mechanical engineering. 
“Cuyamaca has opened a lot of doors for me,” Reyes said. “It was a good choice coming here.”