Graduation at Edgewood College: Still Dreaming Inspite of the Pandemic
Cercio Guerrero Noguez (l-r), Evelyn Cuēllar Dominguez and Kevin Leauxay have been Edgewood College Community Scholars and graduated this past May.
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling
In spite of the barriers and obstacles they have faced, the Edgewood College graduating Community Scholars have succeeded and crossed the finish line at Edgewood’s graduation ceremony held May 15th on the Edgewood College campus. Evelyn Cuēllar Dominguez, Cercio Guerrero Noguez, and Kevin Leauxay have each had their unique journey through higher education and the pandemic. But it is their strong belief as first generation students that a college degree is a passport to a better life for themselves and their families that has led them to succeed in spite a sometimes hostile world and a global pandemic.
Leauxay began the pandemic sheltering in place with some of his eight brothers and sister, mother and step father in a home that seemed to shrink
as everyone tried to continue their social and educational lives in a relatively confined space. It was especially difficult because Leauxay wasn’t attuned to virtual learning.
“I think every student experiences some kind of procrastination,” Leauxay said. “I feel it is inevitable, especially during this pandemic. It was just hard to be doing everyday things. To experience the pandemic and to be graduating has, like they said at the ceremony, been tough, but we made it. It’s hard because I am a very hands-on learner. Especially being in the field of science, labs are very important and need to be face-to-face. Personally, I just like to learn in-person. I retain the information lot more. I am just more engaged in-person. Learning online this past year has been tough. I learned a lot about my learning styles and personally how I like to learn and what is best for me. I didn’t thrive too well with online learning even though it seems easy. I’m not going to school anymore, but I know that they will open up in the fall. That will be exciting.”
Although Leauxay entered Edgewood College with pre-medicine in mind, he left with a bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience.
“I actually really enjoy research, conducting studies, reading different studies and learning how they add to the knowledge of neuroscience,” Leauxay said. “It’s been a passion that has been growing over the years, especially meeting professors at Edgewood who teach neuroscience classes. I met my advisor, Ferrinne Spector, early in my college career. I didn’t realize that she would play such a huge role in my interest in neuroscience. She is really passionate about what she teaches and I can see that. I think that is why I appreciate her so much. It makes me more curious and want to learn more every day. It’s fascinating to learn about different parts of the brain and how they function. There are so many things that we don’t know. I’m never going to learn everything about the brain in my lifetime. To help in any way possible would be amazing.”
Leauxay is taking a gap year before continuing his educational journey in order to catch his breath. When asked what advice he would give incoming freshmen, Leauxay emphasized cherishing the moment.
“Network and take advantage of the opportunities,” Leauxay emphasized. “Live in the present. It’s very easy to get caught up in planning your future and being overwhelmed with your future and how you want it to be. But really, we have right now to live. I’ve learned that this year more than anything to live in the present and experience all of the moments. And be grateful for the experience because not everyone is fortunate enough to receive a higher education. I am a totally different person because of my college experience. I have grown and gained so many qualities because of college. I’ve sharpened my skills and grew so much personally. I learned so much about myself. I have a lot of learning to do, but I think I’m a well-rounded young adult now. And it is really due to my college experience. College is not easy, but I am very grateful for the experience.”
Like Dominguez, Noguez is a Dreamer. He grew up in Madison, attending J.C. Wright Middle School and West High where he was involved in AVID/TOPS and learned about the Community Scholars program.
As a Community Scholar, Noguez became involved in Edgewood College life.
“I actually was a resident assistant on campus my sophomore year,” Noguez said. “That was a really fun experience. From there, I was also treasurer for the Latinx association on campus. That was also my sophomore year. That was a good experience. I didn’t necessarily hold positions in the groups I was involved in. But I would try to get involved in groups like the Black Student Union and the Indian association on campus. Any events or opportunities that arose on campus I always tried to show up. Being a smaller school, events tend to not be successful if you don’t show up.”
Noguez came to Edgewood interested in psychology and ended up leaving the school with a psychology degree. And a big part of his education came in the form of an internship.
“I started an internship working with Achieving Collaborative Treatment, which is a private organization that gives therapeutic assistance to children with autism spectrum disorder,”
Noguez said. “I stuck with it afterwards, so I am currently working there as a paid staff person. It’s been a great learning experience as well as a job. Eventually, I do want to go to grad school for marriage and family therapy. This experience with Achieving Collaborative Treatment is a great stepping stone. I do work with the families. It’s kind of an in-home situation. It’s a great experience and I’m loving it.”
Noguez is grateful to Edgewood College for the education he received through his Community Scholars scholarship, an education he otherwise would not have been able to afford. And he urges all students to just stick with it in the pursuit of their dreams.
“I have definitely felt supported by Edgewood College along the way for the past five years,” Noguez said. “My biggest advice is to not be so hard on yourself because I definitely came in thinking, ‘Oh, I’m just going to do this.’ I did not envision it being as difficult of a journey as it has been. And I think it is important coming in knowing that it is okay to struggle through it and that you are definitely not alone in the difficulties that you will face in trying to get through it.”
The 2021 class of Edgewood College are poised to make their mark on the world and make their dreams come true.