What a difference a year can make.
When Javier Aguin-Ordonez arrived at Howard Community College in the fall of 2018, he struggled to find his place.
“I always say I’m a positive person, but during that time of my life, I definitely was not in the best mindset,” he said. “My first year of college was tough for me.”
Aguin-Ordonez failed two classes and ended his first semester with a 0.6 GPA. His friends took notice and guided him to Sandy Cos, assistant director of Ambiciones – a supportive community designed to meet the needs of Hispanic and Latino students.
“She took me in and helped me out,” Aguin-Ordonez said.
Cos introduced Aguin-Ordonez to Howard P.R.I.D.E., a program that encourages academic, professional, and personal development of black male students, and the Student Support Services Program (TRIO). Staff members in all three programs helped Aguin-Ordonez feel more connected to his classes and the school, he said.
“They helped me a lot with tutoring,” Aguin-Ordonez said. “They would ask me every day, ‘How are you doing? How are your classes?’ They didn’t seem like authority figures. They just seemed like real friends. We would watch movies every Friday in the computer labs with Howard P.R.I.D.E. We would have events, speakers and performers. We had people bring in Hispanic food. We would just have a good time. Everyone was one big family.”
As Aguin-Ordonez entered his second year at HCC, his grades significantly improved. He took “Principles of Film” – a production class that boosted his interest in filmmaking.
“Growing up, I always loved watching movies, and I love writing,” he said. “That was the first film class I ever took. My instructor was Anthony Hoos, and he was just one of the greatest instructors I’ve ever had. His class was talk-based. You had to read a chapter, and then we would talk about it. It wasn’t like another math or science class… This class was different in that it was stuff I actually wanted to know.”
Aguin-Ordonez enrolled in more arts classes and retook the classes he previously failed. By spring, his GPA climbed to a 2.9. And after completing summer classes, he expected it to reach 3.2.
“I’ve worked hard,” he said. “I’ve been there countless nights until 11 p.m. when the library has closed. The people at HCC really helped me a lot.”
In the spring, Aguin-Ordonez will transfer to a four-year university in Maryland to double major in film and studio arts. His career goal: To be a movie director.
HCC’s support, and the scholarship he received through Howard P.R.I.D.E, made it all possible, he said.
“Joining those programs, I don’t know if I would have graduated without them,” he said. “I met a lot of great people and a lot of creative people. Some friends and mentors that will be in my life for a long time.”