In Peru, Marx Guzman was passionate about biology—he loved watching his father work as a biologist. When he moved to California, Marx knew he wanted to continue exploring the complexity of living things in the environment but breaking into this groundbreaking industry would not be easy. He needed to learn English and get a degree in biology to achieve his goals. Like many adults, he quickly learned that Compton College had exactly the resources he needed to succeed.
“First, I learned English as a second language at Compton Adult School, then I met with counselors at Compton College who put me on track to graduation,” Marx explains.
Marx was introduced to Compton College by his older sister, who was studying paralegal studies at El Camino College at the time. She recommended speaking to someone who could help him register for classes and find career options to fit his goals. So, in 2019, Marx chose to pursue an AA in Biological and Physical Sciences—it would be the first of five science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees and certificates he would earn at Compton.
“My career counselor, Carlos, helped me realize I wanted to pursue electrical engineering because it has diverse career options,” Marx says.
When he was starting, Marx worried about whether he could afford college. In Peru, students do not receive financial aid for college, and he wasn’t sure where to find the resources to achieve his goals. In addition to college expenses, Marx wasn’t confident in his language skills and grew concerned that challenging concepts and formulas could cause him to fall behind in classes.
At Compton, Marx was surprised to learn about the many student support services that were available to support his success. Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) provided priority registration, book vouchers, and an academic achievement grant to help him manage classes in addition to gas gift cards, transfer student support, and transfer application fee waivers. At Compton’s STEM Center, Program Specialist Lorena Fonseca introduced him to academic tutoring and career counseling services which helped his academic and career development.
“The EOPS faculty and STEM counselors helped me navigate how to transfer to a university. Without them, my journey would have been much more difficult,” Marx says.
During COVID-19, Marx saw firsthand the value of STEM careers as the world relied on science and technology to develop vaccines, enhance communication, and power all our devices. His favorite professor, Kent Schwitkis, taught physics and encouraged students to not only learn formulas but to understand the mechanics of physics so they understood how natural events occurred in the world. Marx went on to be a teaching assistant for Professor Schwitkis and tutored students at the STEM Center last Fall. He was also working as a co-facilitator of the Make it Happen program, where he helped middle and high school students build rockets and earn prizes.
Today, Marx is enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Cal State Long Beach, though his hard work earned him acceptance to four universities in total. Next, he wants to work in the aerospace field as an electrical engineer who can build satellites and explore outer space. Five years ago, he never would have imagined he’d make it this far, but with inspirational faculty and staff support, he is confident in his future.
To students interested in STEM careers, Marx says, open your horizons. “There are caring people who want to help you reach your goals.”