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April 17, 2023

Student strives to help low-income families find resources to further their education

Epuna Gonzales is a Blue Valley Northwest Husky and a JCCC Cavalier. Through JCCC’s Early College program, she is already earning college credits and seizing opportunities that support her career goals.

She is on track to earn her high school diploma and associate degree in 2024. Beyond that, she aspires to get a technical foundation with an engineering degree—and then earn a law degree to support her interest in policy development. Her dream is to work for the United Nations someday.

Early College offers benefits beyond the classroom

"At JCCC, I can get involved in extracurricular activities and I have the flexibility to choose coursework that aligns with my career goals."
–Epuna Gonzales

Epuna is saving time and money while preparing for the rigor of college-level courses. Plus, she is taking advantage of opportunities for campus involvement and internships.

“At JCCC, I can get involved in extracurricular activities and I have the flexibility to choose coursework that aligns with my career goals,” Epuna said.

She learned about Startland Education’s prestigious Social Change internship in her American National Government class. Andrea Vieux, Associate Professor of Political Science, encouraged Epuna to submit an application.

“I decided to apply because the internship offered a chance to work with like-minded peers interested in improving our communities,” she said.

Epuna’s academic achievements and career goals helped her stand out. She was selected for the Spring 2023 cohort of the 8-week paid internship.

Intern becomes community change agent

The internship at Startland, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, challenges high school students to solve social problems through human-centered design thinking. Interns are immersed in the entrepreneurial mindset to become change agents in their communities.

“My team is developing solutions to provide low-income households access to resources that will help them further their education,” Epuna said.

The experience is enabling her to make a positive impact on her community while strengthening her communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

Epuna also appreciates the exposure interns have to mentors. “My favorite thing about the internship is learning from social change entrepreneurs and the ways they turn challenges into opportunities to benefit communities,” she said.

Get started on your journey

Explore JCCC’s Early College programs and discover all they have to offer. You’ll have access to the same amenities as any student on campus—like free tutoring, Billington Library, the Barbara Gill Lifetime Fitness Center and more. Complete the free application today.