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Student Spotlight: Isairy Gonzalez Andujar

04/09/2020

Isairy Gonzalez Andujar represents Hillsborough Community College as the Florida College System Student Government Association (FCSSGA) secretary. As the state SGA secretary, she helps advocate for over 800,000 students across 28 colleges, including HCC, in the state of Florida. Most recently, Isairy was awarded as the Florida College System Activities Association (FSCAA) Student Government Division student of the month for February 2020. After being awarded the title, Isairy said, “If you dedicate your heart, mind and soul into everything you do, you already won.”

Closer to home, Isairy is the HCC Brandon Campus SGA president, a role she has held for a year. At HCC, she has dedicated time to the Multicultural Club, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and three years to the Student Government Association. Isairy is a prime example of a student leader who has risen above and beyond to leave a mark on her educational community. 

However, getting to HCC was not an easy journey for Isairy. At the age of six, her older brother was involved in an accident that had her family searching for better healthcare in the U.S. Moving from Puerto Rico to the U.S. was a huge cultural change for her, especially at such a young age. “My mom didn't want me to lose my Puerto Rican side, but she also wanted me to transition into a new lifestyle that I wasn’t used to at all.” 

She started elementary school despite not knowing how to speak the language. When she failed the FCAT in third grade, her mom questioned sending her back to Puerto Rico to continue her education there, in a language she was fluent in. Isairy refused. She wanted to prove to herself that she could learn the language, decided to repeat the grade, and ended up passing on the second go around. 

In fifth grade, she had the opportunity to attend a charter school. There, she jumped back into the right grade for her age group by taking two grades at the same time. Instead of taking three years of middle school, she took two. She continued to push herself and in 2017, graduated from Freedom High School, one year earlier than intended. Despite being fluent in English now, language barriers are still present for Isairy. “Spanish is my first language so sometimes I have to think in Spanish and then say it in English, and then sometimes I forget how to say stuff in both languages. Sometimes, I find I’d rather not speak at all.” Yet, she continues to strive forward.

In the fall of 2017, she began taking classes at HCC. Since then, she has graduated with her EMT certification in the spring of 2019 and has continued to take classes. “There’s never been a second where I’ve thought, ‘I made the wrong decision to come to HCC.’ I’ve always had good advisors, I’ve always had good professors, including faculty and staff that have always led me the right way.” 

Isairy understands there can be an adverse perspective when it comes to choosing to stay home and attend community college after high school. Nevertheless, she wants students struggling to know, “You never know until you try something. Go ahead and take a couple classes, get a feel for it and make your decision off of your experience. Many students don’t know what they want to study after high school. We have many opportunities in this country. Community colleges are very family-based, oriented and friendly. I’m speaking for HCC, we do want our students to succeed, and I think that’s everyone's goal here.” 

When asked how she has left an impact on the student community at HCC, Isairy responded, “All I want to leave is a growing community. I want our students to continue with the things that we have already done. I want them to go above and beyond and keep trying new things. Every year changes, there are always new leaders in SGA and there are always new students on campus. I want them to be open-minded and say, ‘Oh, she [Isairy] didn’t do this, but let’s fix it now!’ Maybe I didn’t see something as a problem, but you did, so change it.” 

At her next higher education institution, Isairy plans to take the first semester off to focus on her studies but definitely has plans to continue with SGA and other campus activities. 

Isairy will be graduating from HCC this spring 2020 semester with a plan to transfer to Florida State University in the fall. She intends to pursue a degree in criminal justice. 

 

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