By David Do
It feels strange to be looking back at Amarillo College. AC is no longer my school, but a stepping stone towards my future. I remember my first day at AC–I was driving around all the different parking lots for fifteen minutes looking for a parking spot, before I eventually parked on Wolflin Avenue and walked ten minutes to my first class. I remember wondering if I had made the right decision in choosing AC. Little did I know that AC would take me leaps and bounds ahead of where I would have been had I decided to begin my education at a university.
My first involvement with extracurricular activities at AC was through the Presidential Scholars Program. Whether it was setting up the table for Fall Fest and Badgerama or organizing Honors Expo and community service projects, the Scholars Program forced me to get involved. I also attended every event that was offered–from ballet and opera to hikes in the canyon. These activities also prompted me to learn time management—something I had not really needed to deal with prior to college. Along with learning some important life lessons, I was also making connections with my fellow scholars in a way that I had never done before. In the past, I had always been the quiet kid and, although I had friends in high school, I never really became too close with them. At AC, I made real connections with the Scholars and felt like I belonged in that community–in that family.
My involvement in Scholars inspired me to become active with Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the national two-year college honors society, and interview for (and accept) a position in the Blue Blazers—a group of students hired to serve as college ambassadors. I also decided to join the AC Student Government Association and became the treasurer and interim Vice President of Service for PTK. That was when I experienced firsthand the definition of “busy.” If that weren’t enough, I began working as a tutor, so I was on campus from eight in the morning until at least eight at night, sometimes even later. Despite my busy schedule, I enjoyed what I did. I was on campus, making a difference, enriching people’s lives. I tried reaching out to anyone I could and AC gave me the freedom to do so.
As a second year member of the Presidential Scholars, I began to fully assume my new position in the group as a mentor and I started to notice that people stopped to listen whenever I talked. That was something new for me. I had never had listeners when I talked–mostly because I didn’t talk much to begin with. Now I found myself being more outspoken and began stepping up as a leader, especially after attending a student leadership retreat.
That November, I ran into some family trouble that hit me pretty hard. I couldn’t focus on anything I was doing and people noticed. I started opening up to others and realized that I had built myself a support system here at AC. I wasn’t alone. I had people on my side who would help me get through anything. That level of support inspired me to do the same for others and motivated my outreach efforts. It wasn’t until that difficult moment that I really began to branch out and reach out to others to enhance their AC experience. I started working harder for each club and even joined another one, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society (MATH). I realized I was now doing for others what others had done for me.
During my time at AC, I traveled with the college to Dallas, Fort Worth, Nepal, India, Waco and Washington DC. I won several awards including Who’s Who among Students in American Universities & Colleges, Coca Cola Gold Scholar, the Campus Life award and my inclusion in PTK’s Division II District I Hall of Honor. I conducted research, attended and presented at conferences and workshops and participated in several leadership retreats. Those opportunities and honors would not have been possible without the support of the family that I surrounded myself with at AC. When I felt like giving up, their never-wavering belief in me and inspirational stories kept me going and drove me on to success. When I felt like dropping everything, they made me see the benefits of working hard and making it through to the end. Their continual support lifted me up when I was down and made me a better person, both professionally and personally.
Attending Amarillo College was the best decision of my life. I was kept busy, but I loved every minute of it. If I could go back, I would do it all over again. I will cherish all the memories that I have made with my AC family as I move forward in my college career.
David graduated in May 2016 with a degree in physics and will continue his studies at Texas Tech. This summer he was chosen to participate in NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program at the Johnson Space Center.