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Class of 2001: Camargo saw a dream and reached for it

IMPERIAL VALLEY COLLEGE

May 26, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

When Jose Julio Camargo was a college student in Mexicali, he looked at the future he was working toward and didn't like what he saw.

He was studying information technology, a field he is certain would have led him to a career with the maquiladoras in Mexicali.

That is not what he wanted. He had other dreams and saw his chance to reach them by attending school in the United States.

On Saturday, Camargo joined 255 of his fellow students as part of the 2001 Imperial Valley College graduating class.

Cheers filled the John A. "Buck" DePaoli auditorium as family and friends applauded those taking part in Saturday's commencement.

Moments before the start of the commencement, Camargo said he was grateful for all the support he received from his family, friends and IVC teachers and staff.

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"I feel proud of the people who made me feel proud," Camargo said, adding. "I feel more proud of them then I feel for myself."

Camargo said he feels lucky that he had the opportunity to attend IVC and that he will have the chance to go after his dream of becoming a psychologist.

He has been accepted to both San Diego State University and California State University, Fullerton. He has yet to decide which he will attend.

Camargo, who is 25 and lives in Heber, said it's been a long journey to reach this point.

He was born in Mexicali and was raised in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. After he finished high school, he moved back to Mexicali to go to college.

For two years he attended college there, but he was heading down a path he knew was not right for him.

After two years, he received a green card, which allowed him to attend IVC.

That was four years ago.

He came to IVC with limited English skills. He could speak the language but he lacked writing skills.

IVC staffers who know Camargo said he worked to develop his English skills and always strives to succeed.

Camargo had a desire to be involved in the college beyond taking classes. He joined the student government and this past year he was president of the Associated Students Government.

Now, Camargo has a desire to help his family and others who wish to obtain a college education.

"Back then, I never would have imagined I'd be able to help my little cousins," he said. "Maybe in a couple of years I'll be able to pay their for their college education."

Camargo on Saturday became the first person in his family to earn a college degree in the United States.

He spoke of a sense of accomplishment in reaching that goal. Other students interviewed shared that sentiment.

"I feel pretty good," said Jorge Becerra of Brawley. "I've been here a long time. It's been a good experience. I was educating myself and having a good time."

Karina Acosta of Holtville couldn't help but cry because she had reached her goal.

"I'm so happy to graduate," she said, wiping away tears.

Jose Castillo and Marissa Solano were excited to take part in the ceremony together. They are engaged to be married in December.

"It feels pretty cool," Castillo said. "Both of us gave each other's support."

Solano, holding Castillo's hand, added, "I'm very happy. I'm very proud."

IVC President/Superintendent Gilbert Dominguez told students he was proud of their efforts and urged them to continue working toward their goals.

"We encourage you to pursue your dream," he said. "You can achieve all you want to achieve by believing in yourself and others."

Camargo said he is excited about the future.

He said IVC has prepared him to face whatever challenges come his way. He added no matter where he goes, he wants to return to the Imperial Valley.

"Hopefully, I'll be one of those people coming back to help other students," he said. "Hopefully, I'll have enough money to come back and sponsor scholarships."

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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