Finding My Avenues by Juan Breton

In the business world, the theory of path dependency explains how the decisions that you can take in current circumstances are limited by the decisions you have made in the past or by events you have experienced – even though old circumstances may no longer be relevant. My path at Middlesex Community College was similarly impacted by decisions taken in the past, and my experience at the college has and will continue to have a strong, powerful influence in my life. When I started attending Middlesex, I became a business transfer student because I wanted to wear a tie to work every day like a corporate guy. I had no clue about my future career aspirations, but like many MCC students I knew that attending college would eventually increase my potential earnings and career choices. When you’re lost, the best thing to do is to keep moving and find people who will help you identify the right directions to continue on your path. MCC provided a network of mentors who guided me into avenues that made me grow into a more academically curious person and discover new passions.

At MCC – while walking along my path – I met people who motivated me to get involved in many different leadership opportunities, such as the Latinos Unidos Club, the Leadership in Action Institute and Diversity Summit. While finishing my senior year at Lowell High School, I envisioned myself as a student leader after meeting Latino students in a monthly social through the Latino Connections Program. These students encouraged me to get involved in student organizations and the many leadership opportunities offered by the college. I graduated from high school in June 2016 and that summer – after being placed in honors classes and expressing my interest in helping students – I was surprised and excited to be hired as an ELL tutor to work during my first semester. The professional staff – Noreen, Caitlin, Mari, Lore and student leaders – quickly became my mentors and pointed me in directions that guided my next steps to find new avenues through other leadership opportunities and to become more outgoing. Participating in extracurriculars fostered a more adventurous mentality in me and willingness to try new things.

Being selected for MCC’s Greek Fellowship was an experience dependent on my previous academic achievements and involvement at the college. Studying Greek culture within a historical, social, economic and political context became my favorite MCC academic experience. During the fellowship that included two weeks of studying in Greece, I discovered another new passion – Philosophy – after studying the teachings of Socrates, the founder of Western Philosophy. One of Socrates’ most popular sayings can be found in Plato’s work, “I know that I know nothing.” This quote reflects the openness of exploring new things that enriched my MCC experience thanks to the support of faculty, staff and fellow students. Now this quote is my life motto that inspires me to constantly seek knowledge and learn more about myself, which facilitates my steps through my path.

I learned valuable lessons on money management and teamwork skills, but when I joined, little did I know that I would identify another of my passions. Explaining U.S. national debt to fellow students made me realize that I love talking about money!

Mentors at MCC guided me to discover new passions and interests. For example, I became interested in Latin American Literature and reading more books after becoming a member of La Guagua Reading Group. Professor Willy Ramirez introduced me to a brilliant network of Latinos, including MCC alumni, community leaders and scholars. My macroeconomics professor Camelia Bouzerdan and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Rebeca Newell invited me to join the Up to Us National Competition. That Spring semester, the MCC Up to Us team cultivated a sense of awareness of fiscal policy and civic engagement in college students at our Lowell and Bedford campuses. I learned valuable lessons on money management and teamwork skills, but when I joined, little did I know that I would identify another of my passions. Explaining U.S. national debt to fellow students made me realize that I love talking about money! At MCC, classes such as Taxation, IDS Money Matters: Personal Finance and Managerial Accounting satisfied my new passion and introduced me to the complexities of the U.S. stock market. Professor Bouzerdan recommended I pursue a degree in Finance. Since then, I took my path to another new avenue. Asset allocation, capital management, balance sheets, income statements and financial ratios have been around me as I continued my education at UMass Lowell. I will be graduating with a Business Administration degree in Finance and MIS this spring semester, putting an end momentarily to my academic path. There are many other faculty and staff who even through casual conversations were able to make an impact in helping me finding the right avenues along my path. 

I have been working at MCC as the Financial Wellness Specialist for about a year and a half. In this role, I have supported the development of the financial wellness curriculum and lead a broad range of activities and workshops that support student success and personal finance skills attainment. As part of Financial Literacy Month, The Financial Wellness Program will be hosting activities that encourage students to improve their financial health by budgeting, avoiding debt and engaging in mindful spending behaviors. I am happy to serve as a resource for students who are looking for avenues that would help them navigate their paths to reach their financial and academic goals.I am very thankful for the support network I found at MCC.

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