The support system we have at HCC is beyond incredible and cannot be found in any other institution.

— Camila Cernawsky Nakandakari, 2018 HCC Honors Grad, Mass Communication

I enrolled at HCC in Fall 2015, right after I graduated from Alonso High School. My first day of college was my 18th birthday!. I graduated from HCC in Spring 2018 from the Honors Institute with an AA in Mass Communication. I transferred to the University of South Florida, where I am graduating with a Bachelor of Art in Political Science and Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism-News Editorial.

I moved to the United States from Brazil during my last year of high school. I wanted to go to a college where I could have the opportunity to have a smaller environment and could learn and better myself before transferring to the big universities. It was also advantageous because HCC offers the same classes, sometimes with the same instructors, that 4-years institutions have, but the cost to attend is three times cheaper, making it way more affordable for students, especially international ones.

I will always be thankful for my time at HCC. Before starting college, I had no idea how many opportunities were in front of me. Most of the time, in Brazil, we don’t have honors programs or extracurricular organizations and clubs that help us improve our leadership and academic skills. So, when I first started classes, I was overwhelmed with all the opportunities I had, and I made sure to embrace all of them. I joined the Honors Institute and Student Government, which allowed me to learn and grow as a student and professional.

After joining the Student Government and attending conferences where I met with several elected officials, I realized that my interest in government when far beyond only curiosity and that, in reality, it was the career path I wanted to take. If it weren’t for these opportunities I had at HCC, I would not have been able to network and expand the skills that landed me internships with elected officials in the local, state, and federal government.

The support system we have at HCC is beyond incredible and cannot be found in any other institution. The faculty and professors are always there to help you whenever you need it. There was never a time where I found myself lost and without help. With encouragement from everyone, I got to sit and serve on several executive boards, which helped me to create a resume that landed me scholarships and awards at both HCC and USF. Without the experience and resume I built at HCC, I would not be able to get scholarships to afford the rest of my education at USF.

Because HCC has an environment with smaller classes, we have more meaningful connections with our classmates. We also have the opportunity to have more one-on-one time with professors to make sure we are understanding and succeeding in our academics. When I moved to the U.S., a lot of people doubted my potential because English was not my first language, but with the support system at HCC, I was able to prove them wrong and learn that I’m capable of achieving anything as long as I work hard enough.

I’m incredibly grateful I chose to attend HCC, and I always encourage students looking into college to give this fantastic college a chance. Chase after the opportunities you’re given. Join organizations to network with other students and professionals, challenge yourself academically by enrolling in the Honors Program, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone to defy the norms that are given to you. You can do great things if you embrace all the opportunities HCC provides you. You just have to take the chance!