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Graduate Spotlight: Jose Vega


At 19 years old, first-generation Mexican American Jose Vega is a graduate of Hillsborough Community College with his associate in arts degree. After graduating from Strawberry Crest High School, he enrolled at the HCC Brandon Campus in the fall of 2020 to begin his education in the engineering field. 


“My last year in high school was rough, but graduating at 17 years old was a huge accomplishment for me. Going into college, I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect. COVID-19 affected my first semester, but by my second semester, I started finding more resources as well as advisors, mentors and professors who I could tell wanted me to succeed. Seeing them believe in me gave me the confidence to get involved more on campus.” 


At HCC, Jose was a part of the Honors Program, the Hope Scholars Program and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. 


Reflecting, he is thankful for the opportunities he’s been given thanks to his involvement. He made friends after seeking out tutoring for his calculus courses, received scholarships and attended the College’s Black, Brown and College Bound Summit through the Hope Scholars Program, and he even went to Walt Disney World with his Intro to Literature class. 


He says, “I never thought I was capable of going to college, and being honest, it was hard; but I proved myself wrong and surprised myself a lot during my journey at HCC. As humans, we struggle, but I sought God out and asked for strength. With Him by my side, anything is possible. My advice to others is to pray and ask for direction; eventually, without even knowing it, you’ll start to see how things work out.” 


“For me, HCC was a great way to start my journey. To this day I’m still finding resources that are available to help me succeed. This school was very patient with me, and for that I'm very grateful.” 


Jose would like to thank Professor Tametryce Collins and Dr. Rafael Fuentes for their mentorship.


“I’d also like to thank my mom. Even when I’ve been grumpy and stressed out from school, she’s always been by my side. She works, she cooks, and she takes care of me and my brothers. She’s literally like Superman. Through all the good and bad, she’s always reminded me that it will all be worth it. She says, ‘Right now you’re struggling, but your struggle will build you up and will make you strong and independent.’


She and my brothers are my constant reminder of why I keep working hard. I want to inspire my younger brothers, and it's because of them I’m here today, despite the challenges.” 


“My time here has served me well, and I am really proud to be graduating. It’s been a privilege and a blessing to have attended my first two years at Hillsborough Community College. This school has helped me realize I can accomplish something great. It really is an institution with many opportunities.”


Jose plans to transfer to the University of South Florida to pursue his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. 

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