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MC: A Love Story

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

It began with an  “Information Session,” Montgomery College’s Germantown campus, and organizers who had very

thoughtfully set up an alternative meeting place for Spanish speakers, which was the meeting we went to, as my

mother did not then and does not yet speak any English. As we were instructed in intricacies of college life, I looked

over and met my mother’s gaze, her eyes absolutely glazed with happiness and pride. A mix of weariness and

accomplishment. And as I try to write this post on my very long history with MC, if I had to define the moment that

exemplifies all that this school has given me, I’d have to write her eyes with words, somehow. Her wild pride, her

undying faith.

It ended a few months ago, unofficially… when I called her outside of the counseling center of the Rockville campus,

and told her that I was set to graduate by the summer of this year. It was her voice, then, that mark the sounds of these

words: Purely ecstatic, maybe a little surprised, and wondrous of the next step.


It’s always the next step. It’s the grace of movement, singular action addition that equals the synchronization of many

parts, putting one foot in front of the other, the end goal an obscure ideal. But we walk anyway.

The last four years have been a collective exercise in movement. The physical movement that took me to six different

addresses, paired with the emotional action of progress, and the exquisite soul pain that accompanies growth.

Some of you might remember my blogs on this very same page about a year or two ago. Writing for this program was

one of the most rewarding writing I had ever done. I remember seeking this balance between honesty and restraint

during a rough, rough year, when I felt angry a lot of the time and compelled to place the blame on anything in my

proximity. When I conceived the idea for this blog just a couple of months ago, I felt the story close into a circle as I'd

finally acquired the hindsight I lacked then and I finally understood where this had been taking me all along. I wanted

to write one last note about what I think Montgomery College will mean to me for a very long time.

I ended up at this school for many reasons. Because fate would have it so. Because it was close to home and I was

young and home was all that I knew. Because I lacked the support that would have enabled me apply to other schools.

Mostly, I ended up here because my undocumented status prohibited me from receiving federal financial aid and MC

was the only school in Maryland that would recognize me as a resident of the state, a graduate of a Montgomery

County high school, a daughter to a tax paying permanent resident, a person worth giving an affordable tuition rate to.

Montgomery College was the only place in the country that gave me an opportunity.


I have taken classes at all three campuses with exceptional professors and I have met equally exceptional people. I have

made semester-long friends and been here long enough to see the underclassmen of my high school begin the

pilgrimage I’ve been travelling. The thing about MC is that it has been this irrevocable constant in my life during a time

when not much was certain. I took classes with the full knowledge that I was working towards a degree I would not be

able to use because I lacked the legal status to work in this country. Similarly, I knew that once my time at the school

was up, any school in Maryland would classify me an international student, effectively doubling their tuition rate and

keeping me outside their ornate doors. I knew that I could try for a private scholarship at a private school, but the many

uncertain factors in my life never let this particular idea fully develop.


So it has been a journey of faith and some blind luck, propelled forward only by the subtle reaffirming experiences that

have reminded me why I came here, and ended up staying.

There was the freshman year professor who reached out to me and confirmed that there were people out there who still

had the capability to care, thereby keeping me around for just one more semester which then turned into three more.

And the time that, as a student blogger unable to receive payment for blogging because I did not have a social security

number, the coordinators of the Student Blogger program gave me a gift card that meant more to me than its value.

Though I enrolled, in essence, a silenced individual, I have found my voice here. I have had opportunities such as the

online blogging and MC’s spoken word poetry slam, in which I have participated twice, to work with highly talented

people who have helped define my writing, thus helping me develop an acute sense of self. This has been a long,

painful process, and one that I doubt could have been possible without the constant reassurance of this school.


One summer class stand between the completion of this journey and graduation, which took so long to get here but

also seems to arrive fast. I have applied to the UMD (College Park) and UMBC, from whom I await responses and the

permission to begin the next phase of the pursuit of an English degree. But degree-seeking education aside, I continue

this mad chase for something bigger; the completion of a mother’s dream, the future, a new journey. It took four years

to get here, and it might take four more, but I carry with me the immense life lessons Montgomery College has

provided me.

I wanted to write this because it feels so acutely monumental in an existence that tumbles, stops, and then lurches

forward with no remorse for its occupant. Because it is important to take the time to stop and consider and smell some

spring flowers every now and then. This is my life, and I am so infinitely grateful to this school acting as the conduit to

move this erratic journey forward to a place where the opportunities are actually endless opportunities.

Best of luck to everyone as they prepare for finals. Keep going.



(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

Very much like Denis below me, I am also extremely late in posting this week (last week? Where is the time going?); a combination of finals preparation, with familial reparations, actual finals week and extra hours at work. Life gets in the way ever so often. But the last two weeks have been splendid.

As some of you may recall, I participated in the MC Poetry Slam last month and I hope some of you were able to attend to witness the raw talent on display. The experience itself was a tad surreal as I foster a significant fear of performing in front of people (goodbye school plays, talent shows and kick-ass impromptu rock concerts) so that my decision to just sign my name and follow through with my commitment was a big step.

It was a great experience, however. Parents, friends and school faculty make a highly receptive audience; MC slammers deliver. There was a great feeling of solidarity among us, even though most of us had not met until that night, so that what was important was our participation, respect of each others’ work and willingness to listen attentively. The competition part? Not so much.

But for the sake of it… I grabbed third place with a poem titled “Bedroom Activism,” which utilized the continuous theme of sex to deconstruct same-sex relationships amidst a society that still does not allow same-sex couples to live completely openly and families that typically struggle to accept homosexual members. And so, for you out there, the outcast/outlier wondering if MC will be accepting enough of you: I cannot guarantee that it will be all of the time, but mark my words, it will be most of the time. The sheer diversity of its campuses solidify this fact. Fear not. :)

My semester is officially almost over; I still have some loose ends to tie before I update my Facebook status some summer related comment, which is the only way summer can be started, obviously.

Final comments next week on what it really means to done, and what a two year community college student does after, well, being at community college for two years.


Spring 2011 - Almost Accomplished

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

The atmosphere is gloomy in the basement of this library. Windows show off palpably soggy skies, prophesize water amidst sunny rays. And I should probably attempt to get home soon.

Thus another week has gone by. I remember writing a blog last year about how the end of the fall semester approached with all of its last minute requirements, but time seemed to slow down and speed up simultaneously, and everybody around me seemed to wish it was over already. Not much has changed about this perspective; the warm weather feels like summer and lazy days, school is overrated, but I have learned a big lesson about what time does when it decides to burn seconds, hours, days. I can’t believe all of this is almost over.

But are we there yet? And what have I learned this semester? Am I smarter? Do I understand numbers better? Am I able to put words together more eloquently than I did three months ago? Did my future benefit? Was I able to earn a recommendation from one of my professors? Did pursuing my education benefit me truly, inspire me, enlighten me?

How many times do we stop to really think about these things?

And so. Changing tracks.

The MC Poetry Slam will be held tomorrow at the Rockville Campus, TA Bld. at 7:30 pm in room 148. I mustered a couple of words, or more, about a subject or two, some common themes, and bam, crafted a poem that kind of means a lot to me and I am excited to perform tomorrow. I have subconsciously loved slam poetry for a long time, but I have consciously grown into my love for it more recently, making tomorrow night kind of a big deal.

Additionally, the Slam will feature about 15 to 20 other talented poets, and I have been told that the energy in past years has been great.

Hoping to see a lot of “you” there.


Some Early Thoughts

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

 1:45 a.m., technically Wednesday. I am determined to post a blog on time this week.

Mumford and Sons melodies are currently being pumped into my ears, creating a sense of melancholic sentimentality, the cheery kind, in a good way, in the manner of music of profound poetic quality.

I took a three hour nap earlier today, which explains my utter inability to catch some fleeting sleep.

The semester is reaching an even plateau, though this might be a conclusion derived from faulty observations. I seem to have a habit of holding on to an unnecessary sense of calmness until the very last minute, when I realize that I have X number of important assignments to complete. So that classes seem stagnant and over at the moment, while there remains much to do. My work load was unexpectedly reduced to two classes this semester, so this should not be an issue.


A statistics exam next week and one redundant question: What exactly happens during hypothesis testing, anyway? A short business-related paper. Poem, poems, poems. I haven’t been turning in my words. Research paper; neo-formalism, and why Mary Karr’s books (her memoirs, specifically) have touched me so deeply.

I have class in less than 8 hours. It is time for some sleep, less naps and the work necessary to close two years at good ol’ MC.

Looking forward to it.


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