Nick Stern, Staff Reporter | Photo by Angel Mercier
Career Education Coordinator at the Creative Education Preparatory Institute (CEPI) and previous CNM student, Angela Cordova has had many challenges stand in the way of her getting where she wanted but she has managed to persevere regardless of her struggles, and gets to offer help and support to high school students preparing for college, she said.
A big part of Cordova’s work entails connecting as many high school students as possible to CNM and walking them through the steps for registration, financial aid, academic advisement, and everything the high school student needs to know to get started and manage their future educations, she said.
Cordova said she makes it a point to let students know about the support CNM has to offer and really focuses on teaching students that it’s not all about having a high intelligence in every subject, but that it is about the effort and drive to do well, that will help carry students all the way through college.
“I had a student the other day saying ‘I’m not that smart’ and it is not about being smart. The smartest person could fail because they are not trying. It is not about your IQ. It is about being willing to try. You have to want to do it,” she said.
Cordova moved from California to New Mexico where she intended on finishing up high school which was going according to plan until her senior year, when the high school she attended discovered entirely too late, that her transcripts we’re lacking the credits she had earned, she said.
“I went to the student counselors in high school and asked what I had to do the first time I came to class after moving. They were like ‘you are ok, we got you setup.’ I went in again and asked if I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do and they said ‘oh yeah, yeah, yeah…’ Then all of a sudden they pull me out of class my senior year and said a whole semester did not transfer and I would have to make up all the credits,” she said.
Cordova decided to drop out of high school with the intent of getting her General Education Diploma (GED) instead, she said.
Cordova said she studied for it, but for some reason or another such as money issues, the three month waiting period, and other similar issues, young people tend to never get around to getting it done as she also hadn’t, she said.
She was able to get good jobs but would ultimately have to leave them because she had lied about having her High School Diploma and was found out, Cordova said.
At 21, Cordova had a child and she still did not have a Diploma or G.E.D., she said.
Soon after having her child she found out about the Welfare to Work (WTW) program, which among other services, could help her get into a community college and pay for her GED, she said.
“I was like, ‘Okay, I’m on board’ and I took the class and soon the program helped me get to CNM,” Cordova said.
WTW and the career specialist with the program helped Cordova write her very first résumé, and she was then able to take her Accuplacer exam, which she received college-level scores on, and after the exam, she then received her GED, paid for by WTW, which was what made her able to start taking courses as an official CNM college student, she said.
Cordova started at CNM in 2001, had her second child in 2005, and received her Associates in 2007, she said.
Cordova still has a fondness for the college and that is one of the reasons she loves her job, she said.
“I like what I get to do now. A big part of why I like it is I get to interact with CNM and get as many students over there as possible. The dual credit department has been awesome and whenever I need help they are on call or email. I was just messaging an advisor with a student to walk him through online advisement so there is a lot of support and it makes my job easier here at school,” Cordova said.
Cordova’s career decision came from her experiences whether they were good or bad, she said. She would have liked to have somebody to tell her what she can do to make her life easier and now she gets to try and make her student’s lives easier, she said.
She does not know where she would be if she would have graduated in the normal fashion and she believes the incident actually helped lead her to what she does now, she said.
Now she just wants to help, in any way, to get students to graduate high school and think about college, she said.
Once she graduated with her Bachelor’s from Highlands University, she decided she was going to work for schools and found CEPI which had a really nice setup and every staff member is used to help students in any way they can, which reminded her of CNM, she said.
“Honestly if I could have created a dream job that I wanted to do when I was 17, it would have been this job. Luckily it was already created for me and I found my way into it,” Cordova said.