"HCC encouraged me to not get bogged down in the details but to instead focus on big picture learning."

— Sam Vafadar, 2006 HCC Grad, A.A. Medicine

The year 2003 was a big year for me in a few ways - some good and some bad. I graduated high school earlier that year. My parents also divorced the same year, which proved to be a major emotional hurdle for me at the time. This was the impetus for my moving to Tampa from Clearwater. At the time, I was unware of the presence of HCC in the Tampa Bay area. Thankfully, I was a recipient of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship which paid for the bulk of my tuition expenses throughout my undergraduate career.

I chose HCC because of their community reputation, their flexible class schedules, and smaller class sizes. The affordability of HCC was a major draw for me. I also appreciated the fact that there were several campuses around Tampa Bay which offered more flexible class schedules for me. While the smaller class sizes offered me comfort, the various laboratory courses were probably the ones that challenged me the most and brought me out of my comfort zone by working in groups.

Professor Combs comes to mind when I think about a professor who had an impact. It's interesting for me to reflect on this, because he taught a course that was not directly relevant to my future studies in the biological sciences or to my career as a physician assistant - he taught introduction to philosophy. Looking back, the insight that I gained from some of the assignments - dissecting the philosophical undertones of The Matrix and M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled - would prove to be infinitely useful for me not only as a spiritual person but as a focused clinician.

Like many graduating high school students, I was a little lost as to what direction I wanted to go with my college education. I had prior health care shadowing experiences, but I was also interested in aspects of information technology. HCC encouraged me to not get bogged down in the details but to instead focus on big picture learning. The further that I advanced into my associate's program, I found my way. I delved deeper into foundational science courses at HCC, which paved the way for me to continue my bachelor's degree at the University of South Florida and eventually pursue a career in medicine as a physician assistant.