When she graduated from high school, Briana Mendoza decided to take time off before starting college. She figured the break would give her an opportunity to work and save money while she contemplated her next move.

Feeling the pressure of deciding what future path to take, she still felt stumped. Then she started to hear her friends discuss their experiences at Moraine Valley Community College.

“I took some time off and was like, ‘I’m going to figure it out.’ And I just wasn’t,” Mendoza said. “I heard good things about Moraine from some of my friends, like how it has good prices. It’s not far and I can drive to it. I can do classes part time or full time. The accessibility of it is a big factor.”

Accessibility to the community is one of Moraine Valley’s values. Its neighborhood education centers in Tinley Park and Blue Island offer abundant on-campus resources, many of which Mendoza has been leveraging.

“I’ve been going to the Southwest Education Center (in Tinley Park) for a couple classes, and I really like that because it’s closer to my house,” she said. “Because it’s smaller, the classes are more intimate, so it’s easier for me connect and form relationships with my classmates and professors.”

Mendoza said she has always seen the value in earning an academic degree, a personal belief that inspired her to write an essay for her communications class about the benefits of the college community.

“We had to choose a community, so I chose the college community right away,” Mendoza said. “I talk about strengthening the brain, which you can do as long as you’re learning. By going to college, you’re getting that concrete information to unlock as potential. I can really see what I’m learning in my classes being transferred to my life.”

Mendoza is making the most her time at Moraine Valley by taking many different classes and exploring the wide variety of programs offered at the college, as well as the career opportunities they can lead her to. She’s considering becoming a math teacher and getting a psychology degree to work as a counselor.

Mendoza is also interested in the Addictions Studies Program, an area she learned about from Program Coordinator Anni Rasmussen. It was part of an assignment in the Career Counseling class, a Moraine course that helps students understand their options and develop their focus.

“All the people in the class were in the same boat as me, being unsure about what they want to do. It made me feel more seen,” said Mendoza. “In that class, we had to find a person to interview, to learn more about a career we were interested in. I interviewed an addictions studies professor, and I’m so glad I got insight from her since that’s a field I am really interested in and might possibly want to pursue.”

For anyone considering college, Mendoza said it’s something each person owes it to themselves to explore. People may know what career path they want, and may already be on it, or they could discover new passions.

“This is something I want to do, not because I’m being asked or told to do it,” said Mendoza. “I’m glad I’m doing this for me.”