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Janet Cruz

Changing Lives

Janet Cruz

"Life is better when you pay it forward."

— Rep. Janet Cruz, Florida Senator, HCC Alumna

Born in Ybor City and raised near West Tampa, Janet Cruz became a mother at the age of 16. Undeterred by her circumstances, she returned to graduate from high school when her daughter Ana was just months old. Soon Cruz enrolled at HCC, where she successfully completed the opticianry program in preparation to support her family. With help from family and friends, she built a successful franchise opticianry business. Later... Learn More

News anchor

Changing Lives

Damon Arnold

“While living out of my car, I attended HCC. I couldn’t imagine at the time that I would be anchoring a news desk at a television station just three years after graduation.”

— Damon Arnold, 2015 HCC Honors Program Graduate. News anchor for WALB News 10 in Albany, Georgia

After moving from Kansas City, Missouri to Tampa for a job, I decided to attend HCC full-time. Attending college was a struggle, both financially and academically. My roommate left without notice and I couldn’t afford to live alone, so I ended up living and studying in my car for several months. Through this turmoil, my professors were amazing and they not only helped me get through the lower level classes,... Learn More

Hockey player, female, and male smiling

Changing Lives

Khumari Barakzai

“I truly believe everything I have today in life is because of HCC. HCC is not only a school, it's a home, a family where they care deeply for the students; from the professors to the president of the college. They see your potential and know how to help you achieve your dreams.”

— Khumari Barakzai, 2017 HCC Graduate

Education is a precious thing that is denied of many people. I know this first hand, having grown up in Afghanistan at a time when educating girls was illegal. When I was young, I did chores for a neighbor who in exchange, offered to teach me. In 2012, at 20-years-old, I immigrated to the U.S., and in 2013 had my daughter. Still yearning for knowledge, I enrolled at HCC because... Learn More

Emmanuel Smith

Changing Lives

Emmanuel Smith

"HCC faculty inspired me to pursue a career in science research."

— Emmanuel Smith, HCC graduate, Ph.D. in molecular medicine

When Emmanuel moved to the U.S. from Greece with his family, he wasn't sure if college was right for him. But the moment he attended a class at HCC, Emmanuel's outlook on higher education changed. "Compared to colleges in Europe, HCC offered opportunities to explore different disciplines through electives," said Emmanuel. "I fell in love with biology and decided to make a career of it." After earning an associate degree at... Learn More

Male and Female Student in HCC Graduation Regalia

Changing Lives

Shahrzad and Shawn Zamani

"We chose HCC because of the great community of support."

— Shahrzad and Shawn Zamani, HCC graduates

Born in Iran, Shahrzad and Shawn Zamani moved with their family to the U.S. in 2012. Soon this dynamic brother-sister duo enrolled at HCC, where they became active, successful students who each made their marks in unique ways. A member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the American Medical Student Association, Shahrzad earned the great honor of serving as the 2016 Commencement speaker.... Learn More