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January 4, 2021

College’s diverse population contributes to career choice

When she recalls JCCC, Catalina Wedman talks about small class sizes, accessible professors, all the resource centers (“I used most of them!”), and quality education. But with the greatest fondness, she remembers the people.

“The people were one of my favorite things about my experience,” Wedman says. “Meeting everyone with different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences was so exciting. It felt like home.”

Great Education at a Great Price

Wedman grew up in Costa Rica but joined family in Kansas after high school. She wanted to go to college but was worried about the cost.

“I read about community colleges and JCCC,” she said. “I wanted to stay in Kansas, and with financial help through FAFSA, I was able to do that and get a great education.”

While at JCCC, Wedman was a Spanish tutor and a student ambassador in Admissions, and she worked for International and Immigrant Student Services (IISS) helping students transition to life at JCCC.

“My dad is from Kansas, so I’m not technically an international student,” she said. “But having attended high school in Costa Rica, I could relate to students coming from another country.”

She graduated from JCCC with degrees in liberal arts and general science.

Success – Not a Foreign Word

"Meeting everyone with different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences was so exciting. It felt like home." - Catalina W.

Now several years later, Wedman is the second University of Kansas (KU) student to earn the Charles B. Rangel Fellowship, worth up to $95,000, to pursue a master’s degree at the school of her choice and prepare for a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. She decided to use the award to attend Columbia University in New York City.

While at KU, she was also admitted into the prestigious McNair Scholars Program, which helps low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority students prepare for post-graduate study.

Although Wedman was leaning toward a career as a Spanish professor, a paid internship with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prompted her to think about an international career. She graduated from KU in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a minor in global and international studies, a second minor in political science and a certification in national security and intelligence.

“It took me three years to graduate from KU,” she laughed. “But all of the classes I took really helped me decide on my career.”

After getting her master’s at Columbia, Wedman plans to join the U.S. Foreign Service as a Public Diplomacy Officer (PDO). Her initial type of work as a PDO would likely be to coordinate exchange programs or act as a contact for local and international reporters while promoting U.S. core values. She hopes to serve in East Asia or Latin America, both places with which she’s familiar.

She gives JCCC tons of credit for helping her get started in this exciting direction. “The diverse environment, the clubs, my cultural anthropology classes, the opportunity to study abroad in China and my job in the IISS office all built the foundation for my future education and career,” she said.

Most of all, Wedman credits support from classmates, faculty and staff. “Everyone at the College is committed to you and willing to help. You get everything you need to succeed at JCCC.”

Succeed at JCCC!

Your future success can be right around the corner at JCCC with 45 programs of study and 99 degree and certificate options. Don’t wait – get started today!