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2023 - Dayana Bagdo: My peers and professors helped me overcome my fear

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 12/11/2023
Elgin Community College December 2023 graduate Dayana Bagdo

Elgin Community College December 2023 graduate Dayana Bagdo

Exactly four years ago, I moved to this country from Venezuela. One day, I was 17, graduating high school in my country, and the other day, I was trying to find a job to support my family in our process of creating a new life in a new country with a different language. 

I always dreamed of getting a major in international relations. However, that dream started to look harder when I found that most universities in the US were costly, and as a family, starting from zero, that was something I could not afford. Then I learned about community colleges and the possibility of enrolling in a transfer program to a university, and after some research, I found ECC was the ideal place for me; however, at that moment, I could never have envisioned that I would find these many opportunities and resources at such an affordable place.

I was not as successful as I wanted when I began at ECC because my English proficiency was not ideal, and I was scared of saying something wrong. However, later on, I discovered that there were a lot of students in the same situation and that the ECC community has a considerable percentage of not native English speakers, which made me feel a lot more comfortable and less scared of saying something wrong. My peers and professors helped me overcome my fear by giving me words of encouragement and support. I want to mention Professor Antonio Ramirez, who made a huge impact on my life when he believed in me and encouraged me to apply to be one of the first Center for Civic Engagement members at ECC. From that point, the opportunities just kept coming, from attending important conferences like Unidos US to meeting members of the Senate, giving me a chance to get a sneak peek of what I dream of doing for a living in the future. 

Being a full-time student while working full-time, all in my second language, was not easy to overcome, but today, I can proudly say that thanks to the support of ECC and my hard work, I am graduating.


Dayana Bagdo ‘23

Associate in Arts

Originally from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

Currently living in Hanover Park, Ill.