'Best decision of my life'
"I’ve received much more than just kind words and encouragement here at HCC. The amount of support I’ve received ... can never be repaid." – David Feliciano
Editor's Note: The speech below was delivered by HCC student David Feliciano at the annual President's Reception, hosted by President Christina Royal Oct. 15 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.
My name is David Feliciano, I'm 22 years old, and this is my second year at HCC. I graduated from West Springfield High School in 2015 by the skin on my teeth, but today I am an honors student. Like many, I entered the real world without any sense of direction. It took me a few years and a few failures to realize that I was on the wrong path and needed to reset.
So, at 21, I decided to move back to Massachusetts and enroll at HCC. At first, my parents might have been a bit hesitant to take me back. But this has proven to be the best decision of my life so far.
In addition to being given a second-chance academically, coming to HCC has provided me a safe space to make mistakes and grow. I started my education plan with a focus on addiction studies, and a long-term goal of becoming an English teacher. But I have since developed a new passion for the social sciences and volunteer work. At first, this seemed like a bit of a dilemma. If I know I want to be a teacher, but I also know I want to fight for social reform ... well, how can I do both? At the end of Fall 2018 semester, I spoke to a professor about how I was torn between two majors and the answer she gave me blew me away – "You can just do both,'' she said. All I could think was, Wow, here is a highly qualified and experienced professional believing that I can do anything. I took that validation and ran with it.
I've received much more than just kind words and encouragement here at HCC. The amount of support I've received from the staff at the Math Center can never be repaid. I have always struggled with numbers. This is something I thought would simply never change. However, twice a week, for two semesters, I was able to get the support I needed from the Math Center staff. They were always happy to help me, and soon enough something amazing happened. After all these years, I realized that there is beauty in math problems. They can actually be quite fun if you know what you're doing. This was a revelation for me that helped me in my other courses as well. The fact that I was able to overcome something I have struggled with since the age of 13 was just remarkable.
Ultimately, HCC has been critical to shaping my future. My experiences here have allowed me to begin the process of shedding my skin. This semester, for the first time, I have begun participating in extracurricular activities on campus that have allowed me to meet inspiring students. I'm a member of two on-campus clubs and student senator, and I'm taking my first honors course. These are all things I had never before pictured myself participating in, and I am eternally grateful, because they are forming who I will be for the rest of my life.
PHOTOS by MICHAEL GORDON