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Columbia MD, 21044
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312 Marshall Avenue, Suite 205
Laurel, MD 20707
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Kelly Orozco
Going to a community college is one of the best decisions that a person can make.
Kelly Orozco graduated from high school a year early, and when she arrived at Howard Community College (HCC), she showed no signs of slowing down.

The Laurel resident enrolled in her first HCC class at age 16.

“It was definitely not in my budget to go to a four-year school straight away,” she said. “HCC was also a close drive. I was 16 and not 18, and my mom felt more comfortable for me to be closer to home.”

Despite being younger than most students, Orozco said she quickly felt at home on campus.

Early on, the business student joined Ambiciones – a supportive community designed to meet the needs of Hispanic and Latino students. There, she met Sandy Cos, the program’s assistant director.

“I ended up really liking the program and establishing a connection with Sandy,” Orozco said. “She ended up becoming my personal advisor. She was really helpful and honest.”

As a member of Ambiciones, Orozco had access to free tutoring for each of her classes. She also participated in the program’s special events, including stress management workshops and a trip to Florida for the Black, Brown and College Bound Summit.

During her sophomore year, Orozco took her first accounting class with Assistant Professor Lindsey Patterson. That class prompted her to pursue an accounting career, she said.

“(Patterson) was really great, and she definitely established my love for accounting,” Orozco said. “I just like the attention to detail that you have to have. I always tell people it’s kind of like putting together a puzzle and figuring out why things fit a certain way.”

Orozco received several scholarships at HCC, including the Ambiciones Scholarship, the Family Foundation – Ambiciones Scholarship and the Howard Community College Educational Foundation General Endowment.

“I’m really happy to say my parents didn’t have to pay much toward my education,” she said. “It definitely allowed me to focus on my studies.”

And focus she did. Orozco achieved a 4.0 GPA throughout all four semesters at HCC. Her hard work paid off in spring 2020 when she graduated with an associate degree in business administration and then received the prestigious Frederick Douglass Scholarship from the University of Maryland (UMD). The merit-based scholarship is given each year to 45 transfer students from Maryland community colleges.

At UMD, Orozco is pursuing a degree in accounting. She plans to graduate in 2022.

She credits HCC for her early success.

“Going to a community college is one of the best decisions that a person can make,” Orozco said. “You not only save money financially, but it gives you the chance to develop yourself and learn different professional skills, get a feel for the coursework and get a feel for what you like.”

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