"My time at HCC helped me develop socially, culturally and academically. What an amazing feeling it is to come back years later and teach here!"

— Odette Figueruelo, 1997 HCC Graduate

I came to the U.S when I was 15 years old. My parents had moved from Cuba to Spain and then finally, we made the United States our permanent home. I started my academic life here in 10th grade. My high school years were very difficult as I was trying to learn the language and assimilate a new culture. When I started attending HCC, I felt great! There were other students like me trying to adapt to a new country and learn the language and culture. There were many professors who cared and took their time to reach out to the students. Due to personal challenges, I quit college and then came back and stayed consistently until I was done with my degree and transferred to USF. I was also working full time at that time and going to school part time. I paid for my education, having a low cost tuition really made it possible for me to acquire an education. At USF, I completed my bachelors in International Relations and I received a Master in Spanish Language and Literature. When I entered USF, I was prepared. HCC offered small classroom sizes. HCC really contributed to my success later as I transferred to a four year institution. Today, I proudly teach at Hillsborough Community College. I feel at home. I teach in the same building where I took classes years ago! In addition, I serve on the board of Tampa Hispanic Heritage Inc, which donates funds for the HCC Foundation. It is so rewarding to give back to HCC, not only with job as an educator but also with my community work. Thank you HCC, you change lives.