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Estefani Marino

Degree or certificate program: Nursing.

Hometown: Vernon Hills, Ill.

High School:  Graduated from Vernon Hills High School in 2015.

Transfer school: University of Illinois-Chicago; plans to earn a bachelor's degree in 2017.

Interests and hobbies: Volunteering at a hospital; cooking; camping; hiking; watching cooking shows and movies.

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Estefani Marino

I have a passion for taking care of people and helping make their day better. That’s why I’ve chosen a career in nursing—it’s incredibly fulfilling because you can impact a person’s life in positive ways. Besides attending CLC, I work as caregiver at a local senior living center in Vernon Hills. The work is very hands on, and it’s rewarding to see smiling faces of people whom I’ve helped.

Attending CLC was wisest decision that I’ve made, because the college has given me the opportunity to save money on general education courses while I’ve figured out my career goals. I had originally planned to start at a four-year university, but since I was undecided about my major at the time, I didn’t feel right paying extra thousands of dollars for tuition. CLC has allowed me to have an affordable and quality education. The classes are top notch.

CLC, especially the Southlake Campus, is conveniently located close to my home, restaurants and shopping centers. I love the smaller campus that has excellent labs and all the same resources in one convenient location. My counselor knows me by face and name, and the librarians and professors are all very kind.

My favorite class was Introduction to Psychology because I’m fascinated by how the mind works. The class was interactive in that we didn’t just read the textbook and listen to lectures, but we applied the lessons to our daily life. I and the other students completed several psychological tests on ourselves to find insights, such as whether or not we’re predisposed to certain behaviors. After each lesson, we did a lot of self-reflection and wrote papers. The course taught me that mind is a very complex but powerful tool.

General Biology I (BIO 161) was another great class. The professor, Rachel Lohman, combined humor with a passion for biology and wove into her lectures her research experiences in marine biology. She made you excited to go to class because she went the extra mile beyond the textbook. She loves what she does, and it shows.

Career Exploration (PDS 122) showed me all the different career possibilities. I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test to pinpoint my personality type. Research and workshops helped me find careers that match my interests and values. The course helped me decide on a nursing career.

I was very fortunate to have been granted the Connect to Your Future - International Engagement and Diversity Scholarship. It was incredibly uplifting to know that the effort and dedication I put into my education was being noted. The full tuition scholarship did much more than just help financially. It has inspired me and has driven me to continue to do well in my studies. News that I had been awarded the scholarship came as a great surprise. My family and I are very appreciative of the award.

I have made new friends at CLC, especially at the Southlake Campus, where I’ve met many people. They include students from Stevenson and Mundelein High Schools as well as those whom I never met during my years at Vernon Hills High School.

Going to class with students older than the traditional college age is inspiring. In a precalculus class, there was a middle-aged gentleman, and he was sharp and educated—at the top of the class. That was fascinating, to see that he was excited to learn and didn’t let age define him. Another lady in an English composition class was middle-aged. Just her presence there shows that age doesn’t define possibilities for education. It was great to see older students who don’t stop learning.

After attending CLC, I plan to transfer to the University of Illinois-Chicago and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Eventually, I would like to work as a nurse in geriatrics, pediatrics or oncology.

If you’re a new CLC student and you can’t decide on a major, take a career exploration class. You’ll learn things about yourself and pinpoint what careers you like and don’t like. Also, I recommend that any new student be open to new experiences, join clubs and don’t be afraid to ask questions or meet with counselors. At CLC, I have asked a lot of questions, and finding answers has helped me build confidence at CLC.