San Jacinto College Fall 2023 Graduates

Meet the Graduates

In this special issue of San Jacinto Times, we are taking a look at a few (of many) graduating students. To see what they have to say about their experience attending San Jacinto College, and how it helped them grow as well as prepare them for their next steps in not only their academic life, but their future careers.

— Luis Ramirez, Student Reporter


Congratulations to Gessler Zetino, Engineering major 

Zetino’s most memorable experiences from San Jac was when he helped set up an event at the central campus. The event was a literature club meeting named, ‘Get Lit!’

Although, Zetino’s favorite class was History 1301 taught by Professor Joseph Stromberg.

Something that will stick with him after graduation is the unique San Jacinto College experience.

“Just because San Jac’s a community college doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable than any of the bigger universities, San Jac sets higher expectation for colleges,” says Zetino.

Zetino’s  faith is his main support system,

“Faith in God helped push me to be the best person I could be. He helps center me,” says Zetino.

Zetino believes in self-discovery.

“Find what transforms you, what unites you. Find the Highest Good, the summum bonum.”

Congratulations to Malori Koenig-Dela Cruz, Biology major
Congratulations to Malori Koenig-Dela Cruz, Biology major

“The lesson from San Jac that I will remember after graduation is how to outline a paper or presentation correctly,” says Koenig-Dela Cruz.

Koenig-Dela Cruz will be continuing her education at the University of Houston and plans on being a Genetic Therapist.

Koenig-Dela Cruz advice for students “is to always do your work and to turn it in on time.”

Congratulations to Benjamin Riley Perez, Applied Science, Cloud Computing major
Congratulations to Benjamin Riley Perez, Applied Science, Cloud Computing major

“I decided to switch my degree plan before the first semester started. I switched to a field that still contributed to the things I was looking for, helping others and a job that I would enjoy. Switching to a degree in IT was the best choice possible. I grew up with computers and electronics, and I understood a lot at a young age. Going to my technical/ computer classes was a breeze, having an understanding prior to college greatly helped me to be successful going full-time, tactfully spreading out the work without overthinking, while also focusing on my core classes,” says Perez.

A lesson that Perez has learned is that everyone has an opportunity if they have the want and work hard for it.

“Thanks to my dad who happens to be an IT professional. He helped me understand what I needed to know about technology. His fine example propelled my success in earning this degree,” says Perez. Perez’s advice is to study well but not too hard because finding balance is the key to success. And of course, instead of looking at just the income amount, try studying in a field that you would genuinely enjoy!

Congratulations to Magda Rocha, Communications major
Congratulations to Magda Rocha, Communications major

“I picked sociology as one of my favorite classes because I learned a lot of interesting and very important things about the world and mainly society. The one thing that has stuck with me since I took the class two years ago is the lesson that human behavior is the most difficult to predict. I think about this every day when I’m talking to someone or when I’m driving because it’s true. You never really know someone’s next move,” says Rocha.

Rocha wants to be a social media manager for a big company. Her real dream is to be apart of a Public Relations team for a celebrity, but that is far along the way.

“Something what helped me earn my degree is I, fortunately, had amazing professors who were motivating and made going to school worth it. All the lessons I learned were beneficial and not tiring.” Rocha’s  favorite course she has taken during her time at San Jac was either Composition 1302, or Introduction to Sociology.

“My advice to future graduates is to push through. It is worth it in the end. You will find your passion along the way, all you have is time. You deserve to be proud of yourself,” says Rocha.

Congratulations to Chloe Perez, Business Administration major

“One lesson I learned while at San Jac is to always bet on yourself. Within the past year and a half, I put a lot on my plate with school, work, college softball, and taking an extra course for real estate I wasn’t sure how I would fit it all in, but I knew if anyone could do it all it would be me,” says Perez.

Perez plans to continue her education at University of Houston Clear Lake during the Spring semester to earn her bachelor’s degree.

“One thing that helped me earn my degree is my family, they always were there to encourage me as well as support me with whatever I wanted or needed.”

Perez favorite course while at San Jacinto was Accounting 2301 & 2302. Some advice she would offer is to understand what kind of student you are, how you learn best, what type of classes work better for you, and how you can study efficiently.

“San Jac is a great school with tons of resources to help you be successful,” says Perez.

Congratulations to Carlos Gusman Jr., Business major

Gusman’s favorite course was Public Speaking 1318 with Professor McConnell.

“The biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my few years at San Jacinto College is the way a community college can be a transformative experience, fostering personal growth, self-discovery, and increased confidence in one’s abilities,” says Gusman

“My biggest advice is for everyone is to have a plan going into each semester,” says Gusman.


Congratulations to Miriam Perez,  Applied Science-Health Information Management major

“One lesson I learned is that you should apply for any scholarships as soon as you see or hear the opportunity, ” says Miriam Perez.

Miriam Perez plans to continue her education and earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Information Management with a minor in Health Informatics.

“What helped me earn this degree is having 28 years of work experience in the medical coding and billing field, ” says Perez.

Registered Health Information Technician Prep was her favorite course while enrolled at San Jacinto.

“Advice I would give is to never think that you can’t accomplish something based on age, time, or money. There is always a way,” says Perez.


Congratulations to Aaron Pacheco, Cosmetology major

“My favorite memory is it in Professor Sanchez’s Cosmetology class where we would be cutting hair on the dolls,” says Pacheco.

Pacheco believes that even with his established skills as a barber, communication is key.

“The best thing I learned was to learn how to use my communication skills. In wanting to be a barber, half of my job is talking to my clients, and trying to relate to them in any way possible,” says Pacheco

Pacheco believes that every lesson has some form of value.

“Take in all the knowledge you are learning in class and  put it into your real life do not let the knowledge that you are taking in go in one ear and out the other,” says Pacheco.

Congratulations to Anthony Larzabal, Nursing major

“My favorite course was Introduction to Humanities with Professor Gregory Buchanan,” says Larzabal.

“I listened, I learned from that class and that will stay with me throughout my whole life. Also, to stay open minded throughout certain situations. Many people come from different backgrounds and ways of life, and you do not know their circumstances, so I choose to never judge a book by its cover,” says Larzabal.

Enjoying the educational experience is important.

“Some advice that I can give to the undergrads is to enjoy your time. Do not take life too serious even though times might get hard, you just have to enjoy the moment,” says Larzabal.

Congratulations to Erik Olivares, Communications major
Congratulations to Erik Olivares, Communications major

Olivares favorite course was Spanish 1301 with Professor Ana Snyder.

“From the two years that I have been at San Jacinto college, I have learned how to communicate with others, especially those who come from different backgrounds which will help me throughout life,” says Olivares.

Time management is a key skill that every college student can utilize.

“The best advice I can give is to manage your time better and stay ahead of deadlines no matter the situation. The sooner you turn things in the better it will be,” says Olivares.

Congratulations to Ashley Juliet Arratia, Associates of Applied Science, Surgical Technology major

Arratia completed the San Jacinto Surgical Technology program in August and will be walking in the Fall 2023 commencement ceremony. With the completion of her degree, Ashley was able to pass her boards and is currently working at a major hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

Arratia’s favorite class was Fundamentals of Perioperative Concepts and Techniques.

“During this class, we learned the basics of being a surgical tech and the basics of the operating room and sterility. Looking back, I was so nervous about learning everything and now it’s second nature to me,” says Arratia.

Her favorite lab instructor was Clinical Coordinator Mackenzie Goodman (Martin)

“My motivation came from my family. My parents are my biggest supporters and all I’ve wanted to do is make them proud. They have sacrificed so much for me. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without them. I also owe so much to my fiancé; he’s always encouraged me and got me through the hard study nights and hard days. Lastly, my best friends I made through the program, who are now my bridesmaids. They motivated me every day until our board exam. We studied hard together and pushed each other through every exam and clinical day. I’m incredibly lucky I found them,” says Arratia.

As a graduate, currently working in her field, she is appreciative of her educational experience.

“The San Jac Surgical Technology program was an amazing program. I met so many amazing people and landed an amazing job through them. I will always be so grateful I chose this path!”


Congratulations to Yvette Villanueva, Associate of Applied Science, Surgical Technology major

Villanueva aspires to pursue her career upon completion of her boards. Her favorite class from the program was Surgical Procedures.

“While attending San Jac, I learned to not give up on myself. There will be times when it will be hard and you will want to give up. You have to keep pushing yourself to achieve your dreams,” says Villanueva.

“My advice for graduates is stay focused, don’t slack off, you may miss out on things now, but it will be way worth it in the end,” says Villanueva.

Villanueva’s motivation and determination can be attributed to her family.

“My kids helped me stay motivated because they deserve a good life. I would like to thank my family for pushing me to keep going, my husband for all his support and sacrifices, and my kids – thank you for being patient and going through this journey with me,” says Villanueva.

Congratulations to Cecilia Storm Murrey, Communications major

Murrey plans to transfer to the University of Houston Downtown and pursue a degree in English. Her favorite class at San Jacinto was creative writing.

“A lesson I learned at San Jac was to not be discouraged by low grades and problems I cannot solve. Try harder and work harder,” says Murrey.

Murrey attributes her success to a group of supportive people in her life that would consist of peers, family, and professors.

“My only advice for current students would be to try hard and to try to have fun while you are nearing the end,” says Murrey. 

Congratulations to Roel Guzman, Natural Science major
Congratulations to Roel Guzman, Natural Science major

“My Favorite course overall would definitely have to be Historical Geology. In this course, we learn the changes Earth went through in the last billions of years and we even discuss animals such as dinosaurs or events such as Pangea forming and breaking. Professor Ronda Wilson would have to be my favorite professor who also teaches Historical Geology alongside Physical Geology,” says Guzman.

Guzman will continue his education after graduation.

“I plan to attend University of Houston Clear Lake and I will want to pursue Medical Lab moving forward. Essentially, the Medical Lab is where scientists receive specimens from patients. They analyze and test these specimens in order to build a diagnosis,” says Guzman.

“SJCD definitely showed me to be more kind and welcoming towards others. Every time I’m in class, I always study with friends but I offer every classmate a chance to study whether it’s through a Study Group on GroupMe or Zoom call. I always try to consider everyone in my class even if I barely speak to them, since I would want the same opportunity and sometimes students can be too shy to speak up for themselves,” says Guzman.

A key motivator in Guzman’s life that has helped him earn his degree is his family. Family gave Guzman the idea of a potential college route and supported him along the journey.

“My family really helped me reach my goals when it came to college. My parents pushed me to get my associates degree when I wasn’t really willing feeling it at first. But they had given me enough courage and confidence to pursue that goal.  I want to thank them for influencing who I am today. I don’t know where I’d be without them,” says Guzman.

Congratulations to Joseph Gonzalez, Real Estate major
Congratulations to Joseph Gonzalez, Real Estate major

“A lesson I will always remember from SJCD is to stay on top of things and never procrastinate until the last second. The ability to balance time is one you will not regret learning,” says Gonzalez.

“My favorite course was Real Estate Law and Contracts because it was interesting to learn how many rules and components are in contracts,” says Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is working towards his future entrepreneurship.

“My plans for the future are to acquire my Realtors license and start by gaining at least four years of experience. Then I would like to become a Real Estate Broker and own a firm,” says Gonzalez.

A support system has aided Gonzalez’s journey.

“My friends and family have helped support me and they are the reason why I have gained the amount of knowledge I have now,” says Gonzalez

Mastering perseverance is important to Gonzalez.

“My advice to future graduates is to never give up on your goals even if they feel impossible to achieve, because you can’t succeed without failing,” says Gonzalez.


Congratulations to Sasha Mondragon, Business major
Congratulations to Sasha Mondragon, Business major

“I think my favorite courses would be my psychology classes. Those have helped me view life from a different perspective but also try to further understand opposing perspectives,” says Mondragon.

“My long-term goal is to open a cafe but as of right now, I wish to get as much experience as I can in order to learn as much as possible. I also want to get a higher-paying job so that I can start saving and investing,” says Mondragon.

Mondragon highlights the importance of being self-driven and motivated.

“The thought of my future and how I wanted my freedom to make my own decisions really helped motivate me to stay on track.”

A piece of advice she would like to share with students is to take the time to plan.

“Take your time and plan ahead. Don’t rush yourself, it’ll just make life harder. And planning ahead helps. Look into jobs and career paths months in advance because it’ll make the end easier and stress-free,” says Mondragon.

Congratulations to Jiamichea Marquis Jones, Nursing major
Congratulations to Jiamichea Marquis Jones, Nursing major

“I plan on getting my BSN at one of the programs here in Houston, particularly UTMB or UTHealth. I want to pursue a masters degree in nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner,” says Jones.

One of his motivators to obtain his degree was built upon himself and a speech by an influential professor.

“I’m very self motivated but what sticks with me to this day was a speech that Professor Neely gives at the beginning of every semester. It’s far too much for me to explain but I’ll never forget it,” says Jones.

Building relationships at San Jac can help make the college experience more enjoyable. For Jones, focusing on socialization is an important lesson.

“A lesson that will stick with me after graduation would be that you can increase your lifespan by creating and maintaining good relationships. I recall it from intrapersonal communications,” says Jones.

Congratulations to Liliana Perez, Medical Radiography major

A lesson Perez will remember long after graduation is, “To remember that you can always find your path in college and meet people you did not know would be very important in your life. There are people who will help you network and remind you of your goals.”

Perez will be an X-ray Technician and eventually choose an advanced modality within her career field such as MRI or Mammography. What helped her earn her degree was long study sessions at the library with her friends.

Perez’s advice to future graduates is, “to not give up. School will always be there, so don’t feel like you’re behind in life. You will find your passion and surround yourself with people who will help you meet your goals. Learn from your mistakes. You will get there.”

Congratulations to Ricardo Medina, Accounting major
Congratulations to Ricardo Medina, Accounting major

“Embrace challenges. College is the time where you can learn from your mistakes, not shy away from them. By doing this, you will become the best academic version of yourself,” says Medina.

Medina’s plan after graduation is to continue his education to earn his bachelor’s degree and become an Accountant.

A lesson Medina will always remember is how he learned the importance of time management and making sure to utilize all of the resources available to him.

Congratulations to Morgan Singleton, Business Marketing major

Singleton hopes to transfer to Sam Houston State University to further her education.

Her favorite subject was her English 101 class taught by her favorite professor, Professor Kayla Logan.

“I really enjoy writing, so I have to go with my English 1 class,” says Singleton.

“Honestly, my parents they’re my financial support and my moral support to push me to success,” says Singleton.

Singleton’s words of advice for students are straight forward.

“Don’t skip out on classes just because you can. Take your time and don’t overdo it,” says Singleton.

Congratulations to Layla Salinas, Psychology major

Salinas plans is to further her education by transferring to Texas Christian University in order to gain a Pre-Law degree.

Salinas say that attending San Jac was an experience in itself.

“I’ve learned a lot academically, it really helped me grow into the person I am,” says Salinas.

Salinas’ mother is her ultimate support.

“My mother is very supportive and is always pushing me in the right direction,” says Salinas.

Salinas say that always doing your best is important.

“Do your best. Don’t take the easy route. Work hard for what you want to achieve,” says Salinas.

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