Pioneering Environmental Advocate Clarissa Treviño Leads the Way at MiraCosta College

11/20/2023
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Clarissa Treviño's journey through MiraCosta College is a testament to resilience, unwavering determination, and a fervent desire to impact the world positively. From a high school senior facing an uncertain future to a leader in the PUENTE program and a participant in the prestigious National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Education Program at the University of San Diego, Clarissa's story is one of inspiration and achievement.

“It was the best decision I could have made.”

When Clarissa Treviño reflects on her MiraCosta College experience, it is a story filled with resilience and a passion for changing the world.

But before Clarissa became a leader in the PUENTE program and was accepted into the prestigious National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Education Program housed at the University of San Diego, she was a high school senior facing an uncertain future.

As a El Camino High School graduate in 2021, Clarissa's final year was a turning point in her life, but not in the way she initially envisioned.

In her senior year, Clarissa set her sights on several UC schools. The only challenge was that she was applying without the support or guidance of anyone else. While many of her peers already knew how to fill out the personal questions and essays because their parents or older siblings had done it before, she didn’t have that advantage.

As a result, Clarissa didn’t receive the long list of acceptance letters she was hoping for. On top of that, Clarissa was about to begin a multi-year process of healthcare procedures to help improve a medical condition she was facing. It was a situation that would cause many to quit. But Clarissa had other ideas and would continue her academic journey no matter what obstacles she faced.

Recalled Clarissa, “When I realized how much I was going to go through with my medical issues and the prospect of being away from family while going through it, I realized community college was the perfect step.”

Since MiraCosta College was located right down the road from her house, Clarissa could pursue higher education in an environment and setting that fit her needs at the time.

“I still remember our virtual orientation session,” said Clarissa when reflecting on starting college during the pandemic. “We got to learn all about the programs that MiraCosta College offered and PUENTE was the one that stuck out.”

Clarissa already had a relative who worked in the UC system, and they highly recommended the PUENTE program because of its ability to help students transfer to four-year universities. So it was a no-brainer that Clarissa apply. And as soon as she was accepted, Clarissa knew she made the right choice.

“The compassion and support of our PUENTE counselors was perfect from day one,” shared Clarissa. “You got the feeling that they were there for the students and truly wanted us to succeed.”

As Clarissa explained, PUENTE created structure, taught leadership, and helped her build character and develop life skills that benefit her daily. Not to mention the program helped Clarissa apply for and receive scholarship funding that continues to support Clarissa’s academic ambitions to this day.

But arguably, one of the biggest benefits was how PUENTE helped Clarissa create her own pathway for the future.

Said Clarissa, “Ever since I was little, I was interested in environmental justice. As a kid, I still remember watching the news about a major oil spill one day while I was in middle school. I was so upset that I spent the following weeks researching how to clean up oil spills and learning about all the new techniques and innovations people were developing to combat environmental disasters.”

Through PUENTE’s program, Clarissa was able to identify that lifelong passion and turn it into a degree and career pathway in the mechanical engineering field.

“My goal is to work in renewable energy,” beamed Clarissa. “I want to help make the world a better place and I can’t wait to get started.”

After recently completing the summer session of the National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Education Program, Clarissa has a few more classes to finish at MiraCosta College before graduating in 2025. She plans to transfer to complete her bachelor’s degree at a four-year university and then leave her mark in environmental science.

Clarissa Treviño's remarkable journey at MiraCosta College inspires all, embodying the college's commitment to empowering students to achieve their dreams and create positive change in the world.

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