My 2020 Grad Story: Try

2020 graduate Carlos Guerrero
Rebecca A. Eckland

This semester, TMCC is celebrating our graduating class of 2020 in a big way. Even though we have postponed our commencement ceremony until the Fall, we are so proud of our graduates who will still earn their degrees when the spring semester ends on May 16.  

This is the second in a series of news stories where we’re sharing that demonstrate how our graduates have faced challenges and persevered to complete their degree program. Each student was asked to provide one word for their journey. Carlos Guerrero, a Peer Mentor for the Men of Color program, calls his journey to get his Associate of Arts degree “Try.” 

First-Generation College Student

Guerrero is pursuing an Associate of Science in Business Management at TMCC.  A first-generation college student from a small town of Dyer, Nevada, Guerrero would have to travel one and a half hours to attend the closest high school in Tonopah, Nevada. “Originally, I thought I would graduate from high school and just go to work in the mines,” he said. “College was the last thing on my mind.” 

However, the Nevada Promise Scholarship opened a new opportunity for Guerrero who admits that his choice to pursue higher education was made for his parents and to “pave the way” so that his younger sister and brother could one day do the same thing.  

Discovering Your Path

His mom advised him to just get a general degree, but after his first semester at TMCC, he discovered that he liked business classes, and not just for its attention to “the bottom line”, but because it would enable him to work closely with others, helping them to realize their full potential.  Classes like his Supervision class taught by Debra Strickland and a Communications class by Rick Bullis were among his favorites. “I connected with the classes easily. The homework didn’t seem like homework—it was fun. It was stuff I wanted to learn,” he said.

His most challenging moment was taking Math 126 in his first semester—in addition to adjusting to college life, the skills and study time were a definite challenge. However, Guerrero admits that checking his transcript after that first semester—and discovering he had passed the class—was also one of his happiest moments. He saw that if he tried, he could succeed. 

“I remember looking back in high school, and they ranked each of us [in terms of] where you stood within your class. There were only 20 students in my class, and they ranked me seventeenth. At the time, I thought—wow, I’m at the low-low end of the list. And I thought about that a lot once I started taking classes at TMCC.  And then I told myself that I have a lot of try in me, and that I can do this. I tried a lot, and that’s what’s taken me to where I am today. I just keep trying and trying.”

Encouraging Others as a Peer Mentor

Guerrero also gained valuable experience in his work-study position as a Peer Mentor in TMCC’s Men of Color program. “Being a peer mentor is probably one thing I will never forget in my life. I really enjoyed doing that. Getting involved with high school students and being able to offer them words of encouragement was impactful for me. I shared my life experiences with them, and the best moment was when one of them would say that ‘my favorite mentor is Carlos.’ That was how I knew I was helping them.”

Guerrero—who hadn’t even considered going to college—is preparing to continue his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. His ultimate dream? To become a CEO of a company one day. “As I went on working in the DISCO, I did a presentation and an older gentleman from the Reno Rotary came up to me and told me that I could do it--that I have what it takes to be a leader. Recently, I turned in a homework assignment for my Communication class, and Rick Bullis told me to read a management book or two because he could see me doing that.”

To other TMCC students, Guerrero offers a simple message: “Just try—that’s my take, just try. Anyone can do college, it’s just some people try harder than others.” 

Join us in celebrating TMCC’s Class of 2020! Visit TMCC’s Facebook page for live interviews with our graduates, and updates about their incredible journeys.