Education or bust!

Image: Michaela (Mica) Lara Gonzalez

Image: Michaela (Mica) Lara Gonzalez

Written by: Eileen T. Jevis 

University College Student shares her secret to Success!

When Micaela (Mica) Lara-Gonzalez finished high school, she knew she had to pause and decide what she truly wanted to do next. Her passion was to help others, and her goal when starting college was to learn skills and gain knowledge to make that happen. She enrolled in Onondaga Community College and graduated with an associate degree in Human Services. Her success led her to continue her education at University College (UC) of Syracuse University. “I applied to University College because I needed to be able to work and go to school at the same time,” said Mica. She suggests that students weigh the pros and cons of the school/program they are considering so that they have a strong sense of involvement and commitment. Mica juggles two jobs, attends classes, completes assignments, and is in the process of starting a new business. She shared some tips on how she handles it all.

Time management:  For any student juggling myriad responsibilities, time management skills are essential. Making a list of things to do, tackling time-consuming projects in stages, setting deadlines, and learning to say “no” are helpful tools that Mica practices each day. “When you have many things going on, you really have to take a moment and say, ‘what things are working for me, and what things are not?’” she said. Mica makes a point to have clear-cut school and work boundaries. “I schedule specific times when I do my homework and really make a point to keep work stuff at work and personal stuff at home.”

Tap into your support system:  The academic advisors at University College are also certified life coaches. Mica’s advisor, Emileen Butler, has been instrumental in Mica’s success. “There have been times when I’ve had some negative experiences and she was there to make sure the issues were addressed. She is truly invested in the well-being of her students and approaches us in a warm and supportive way,” said Mica. In addition to Butler, Mica has a strong support system at home. Her partner, mother, sister, and grandparents are there to tell her how proud they are of her hard work and aspirations. “There wasn’t really an option to not go to college,” said Mica. “I have big dreams for myself and my future.”

            Mica said that she’s had many struggles and challenges, but she advises others to start small, work their way up, and take one step at a time. “Falling down is part of the learning process,” she said. “But when you’ve accomplished something – whether passing a math test or getting through a difficult week – celebrate each milestone.”