She bases her decisions on compassion, kindness
MOVING FORWARD | Stories of Shafter High grads Yecenia Chavez
August 8, 2019 | View PDF
After graduating from Shafter High in 2018, Yecenia Chavez decided to attend Bakersfield College instead of a four-year school, like many of her classmates. "My high school grades were decent, but I felt like I could've done better," Chavez said. "I also decided to go to BC for financial reasons."
Even though some might say that attending a local junior college is taking the easy route, Chavez's biggest challenge in college so far has been managing her time and gaining her independence while still living at home. "I had to live at home and ride the bus to BC this year, which made it hard to manage my time with clubs and school," she said.
Because she had to arrange her schedule around public transportation, Chavez was not able to be quite as involved as she would have liked. One of the extracurricular groups that Chavez was especially passionate about was the theater troup. "I was in Theatre Club, but I couldn't be fully involved because the practices ran from 6 to 10 p.m., and the buses don't run that late." Theater also conflicted with Chavez's schedule because she had many evening classes. "In high school you are done by 3:05 every day," she recalled, "but at BC I got out way later, and it was strange that there was no bell to end class!"
One thing Chavez has been grateful for during her first year of college is the ability to stay in touch with friends from Shafter High who also attended BC. She has appreciated the support of her professors, especially Don Turney, who helped her figure out which classes are needed for her major. Chavez is planning to study psychology, but this year she was primarily focused on completing her general education requirements.
Chavez has not always planned on studying psychology, but her interest in the subject comes from deep values of compassion and kindness. "I have always really liked helping people, but I didn't know what to do with that at first," she said. "One of my friends in high school told me I should do psychology, so I decided to try it." Chavez first took a summer psychology class to see if she liked it, and then decided to take AP psychology during her senior year at Shafter High. That is when Chavez realized that the subject was the path for her.
One of Chavez's most valued resources on campus was the EOPS program, which helps students with financial struggles. "I was able to talk with counselors and get book vouchers, so that was really helpful," Chavez explained. "The counselors would meet with us three times every semester just to check on us and offer advice about classes," she said. "Other students didn't have that opportunity, so I'm really glad I did."
Chavez is grateful for the support she received from her friends and family while studying at BC. "My parents helped me out with money, and my mom made me food, so that was really nice!" she said with a laugh. Even though BC is not far from Chavez's home, some of her classmates were not familiar with Shafter. "People would ask where I was from and I sometimes had to tell them about Shafter and where it is," she said. "Lots of people at BC are from places that I've never heard of, so that helped me to expand my own worldview."
The thing Chavez misses most about Shafter High is her "theater family." Even though she was not able to participate in theatre at BC as much as she would have liked, she did have the opportunity to look at the stage from a different perspective. "I got to see my friends perform, and it felt different to be in the audience rather than onstage," she said. "That was a new experience for me."
One of Chavez's goals next year is to start driving to school rather than taking the bus so she can stay late for theater rehearsals if she needs to. "Depending on how much time theater takes, I may consider joining some other clubs, too," she said. After completing two years at BC, Chavez plans to transfer to Fresno Pacific University. "I have heard good things about the different programs there and the internships that are offered to students," she relayed. "Plus, the campus is a lot more green than it is here!"
Cara Hudson is an intern for the City of Shafter. This article is a part of the ongoing Shafter Graduate Project, which shares stories of graduates in their college careers. To read more about Yecenia Chavez and other graduates, visit the City of Shafter's Facebook page.