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Meet Garbiel Bartoli

As an international student at MiraCosta College, Garbiel Bartoli wanted to connect with other students from around the world. When he realized the college’s International Club was inactive because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and a friend rejuvenated the organization.

The club held 19 events in the 2022-2023 school year, including a Halloween party attended by more than 200 people and regular events in which international students gave a presentation about the culture and food of their home countries.

“Having that community helps everyone, including myself,” Bartoli said.

Bartoli grew up in rural Brazil and dreamed of leaving the area where his family had lived for generations. He initially hoped that soccer would be his ticket to a new life, but he developed a bacteria infection on his hips that left him unable to move his legs. He underwent an intensive therapy program to learn how to walk again.

“I realized I could not put all my hopes on soccer,” he said.

During his recovery, Bartoli decided to focus on academics, although he had never before thought of going to college. In his senior year of high school, he participated in a student exchange program and was selected by a family living at Camp Pendleton to live with them.

He was 17 years old and spoke no English when he arrived in the United States in January 2020. Two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shutting down schools and businesses. Instead of meeting lots of people as he had hoped, Bartoli spent his final semester of high school in online classes.

He enrolled at MiraCosta College in Fall 2020, but took a break after the semester ended because he wasn’t enjoying his online classes. Bartoli decided to re-enroll after he successfully applied for a $500 scholarship.

“It wasn’t so much the money,” he said. “It was the feeling that all my efforts were seen and my hard work would eventually pay off.”

Bartoli praised the International Students Office for helping him navigate his education goals. “I always felt like I had all the support I needed,” he said.

In addition to the International Club, Bartoli was also active in the Sustainability Club. His Geography Professor, Taya Lazootin, was the advisor for the club and Bartoli said she became a mentor to him.

“She was there to support me whenever I needed her,” he said.

Bartoli graduated in 2023 with an associate degree in business administration. He applied and was accepted at several University of California schools, but he said the fees are too high for him as an international student not eligible for resident tuition.

He is now planning to return to MiraCosta College this fall and work on obtaining a certificate in Sustainability Studies. He plans to apply again to universities, hoping for a scholarship to ease the financial burden.

Bartoli said his passion is for companies to have a greater interest in sustainability as they do business.

“Sustainability is the way to ensure that life goes on,” Bartoli said. “The way we are using resources is not the most sustainable. If we keep using our resources like that, we’re going to end up in a bad spot.”

He advises other students to keep themselves open to new opportunities.

“Try new things. You are never going to regret that experience,” he said. “You either gain something or you learn.”

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