Lana Awad has always craved adrenaline. From running track in high school to traveling the globe, she has a long history of chasing – and catching adventure. This knack for new experiences has come in handy, as Lana recently embarked on a new journey at Cuyamaca. However, the road to get here wasn’t easy.

 

For many students, the transition from high school to college can present a variety of challenges. For Lana, that was no exception. After going to a French-American school in her youth, she attended Cathedral Catholic High School for two years.

 

As a daughter of Iraqi immigrants, Lana found the school to lack the vibrant international community she had encountered at her previous institution. While she was surrounded by academically ambitious students at Cathedral, she noted that diversity there was lacking.

 

“I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and my studies fell by the wayside. Then, my counselor looked at my transcript and recommended looking into community college,” Lana said.

 

Taking the First Step toward Higher Education

 

Initially, Lana transferred to a community college in the city of San Diego. By the time she started her second semester as a Political Science major, the COVID-19 pandemic was already in full swing, leading her to finish her courses online.

 

“During summer school, I found it tough to get in touch with anyone. No one was particularly responsive and I didn’t receive a lot of guidance regarding which classes I should take,” Lana said.

 

This experience resulted in her decision to leave Mesa College. She began conducting research on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Lana shared, “I reached out and before I knew it, an advisor set up an appointment between me and a counselor right away. She sat down with me for over an hour and came up with a plan. All of my questions were answered.”

 

Reaching New Heights at Cuyamaca

 

Lana’s first semester at Cuyamaca College proved to be nothing short of exceptional. From the faculty to the counselors, she finally felt like she was being set up for success.

“In the beginning of the semester, Trina Larson was my English professor. I have never had a teacher that was so engaged with her students. She checked in routinely to make sure I was doing well, both from an academic and a mental health perspective,” Lana said.

 

Lana was even interested in pursuing track and field again and explored some of Cuyamaca’s athletic programs. She explains, “I immediately got an email back from the head coach for track, Ron Sheifield, and joined the team. His motivational speeches really resonated with me and I would’ve stayed if it wasn’t for my injury."

 

Looking Ahead

 

Post-graduation, Lana hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in international business and is hopeful that Cuyamaca will put her on the path to achieving her goals.

 

So far, she is considering attending San Diego State University or studying abroad as Europe offers a wide range of options for young entrepreneurs in-the-making.

 

No matter her path, the future looks bright for Lana.