“HCC helped me step out of my comfort zone and led to my development as a successful student and ultimately as a successful professional in the workforce. HCC was a beacon of hope when I needed it most.”

— Jorge Polanco, 2013 HCC Hope Scholar and Honors Program Graduate

At the young age of 16, life circumstances forced me to drop out of high school. What followed were difficult years that lead to the destruction of my self-confidence and a defeated outlook on life. Eight years later (age 24), I was hungry for a change in my life and pushed myself to enroll in a high school program, graduate high school, and do the unthinkable… enroll in HCC. I initially thought I had made an incredible mistake, as I thought to myself “I'm not smart enough to be in college”. To my surprise, this seemingly terrible mistake quickly turned into a true life journey filled with self-discovery and support to once again find self-confidence. HCC became the place of personal unravelling and provided the mental reconditioning and tools needed for me to build a new life. HCC did more than provide an education, it provided opportunities to become immersed in a community of people that were also pushing to overcome and succeed. I finally felt like someone was rooting for me. I encountered inspiring professors like Dr. Keith Berry and Dr. Dustin Lemke that taught me things like “the future is in the hands of those that can Learn, Unlearn, and Re-Learn” and “if you’re the smartest person in your group, you’re in the wrong group”. I also met with counselors and mental health professionals at HCC that helped me work through moments that I felt overwhelmed; which made me feel that turning my life around was truly possible. As I continued my academic career, I became involved in the Student Government and Hope Scholars Program. Each of these programs served to shape me into a better person. The Hope Program paired me with mentorship and exposure to secure professional internship opportunities. This gave me the competitive edge when I had completed my studies and entered the corporate workforce. While at HCC I earned an Associate of Science degree in Business and moved on to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Management at the University of South Florida (USF). I now work for a top tier global management consulting firm and have used what I learned to help teams of people all around the world in the finance operations space, and now, most recently, as an Operations and External Workforce Expert in People Operations. I also currently stand as a Master’s Program candidate in the study of Change Management and Organization design in some very competitive universities and I am in pursuit of some entrepreneurial opportunities.

Belief is power….it takes a village to make your dreams come true, choose wisely.