High school did not prepare me for acceptance into a university. The blame for that rests solely on my shoulders and not working toward that all-important next-step. I turned to HCC as my best and only option, and set one small goal: to earn an associate in arts degree. What I soon discovered is that HCC gave me the opportunity to thrive in classrooms of 20 instead of 300. I had the privilege of being educated in a diverse environment, by professors who had passion and took the time to focus on the success of each individual student. Every instructor knew my name and took the time to help me when I needed it. One professor who truly made a difference in my life was Beth McCullough. She was my inspiration in the Fall of 2000 when I took introduction to chemistry. Subsequent to that, I took every chemistry course offered by HCC with Professor McCullough, from pre-chemistry to organic chemistry 2. Most importantly, these were classes that I was able to use toward my Bachelor of Science degree at USF. Because of this, and the low cost of tuition, I graduated from HCC without the debt of student loans. While at USF, I learned to appreciate HCC even more, in large university classrooms with professors who never took the time to learn my name. HCC prepared me well for a difficult curriculum while working toward my Bachelor of Science degree. In 2008, I graduated from Barry University with my Master of Science in Clinical Medical Science, and today, I work in a job I love; as a physician assistant at Tampa General Hospital working in Orthopedic Joint Replacement Surgery. HCC set all this in motion, and gave me an opportunity to thrive.