Nontraditional Student Week Day 2: Johnny “I am a minority”

Happy Nontraditional Student Week! There are many attributes to those defined as nontraditional students — from working status, to children, ethnicity, and age. I will be featuring a different nontraditional student every day this week — students who work hard to achieve their goals despite the factors that work against their success! I hope you find them as encouraging and inspirational as I do! If you are a nontraditional student, please share your story with me!

Name: Johnny R. Sanchinelli10736155_852067704827063_1920281324_n

I am nontraditional because: I am a minority

College: ELAOC and then Cal State Long Beach

Major: Accounting/Cosmetology

Share a bit of your story: your struggles, your proud moments, etc.:

I guess I’d have to start from the moment I came into the country.I was 17 and moved here from Guatemala, I am born from Spanish and Italian parents. The culture shock was interesting to me, I grew up watching Clueless and Saved By The Bell but in Spanish, I saw what I thought living in California was but without the language. I was immediately thrown into an ESL (English as Second Language) class to start adapting and to my surprise I was in a classroom full of all ages, from kids my age that were out of juvenile detention to seniors who lived in the elderly home across the street from the school.Right away I started to attempt to learn and did really well! In one week I was graduating that class — reading and speaking English quite well.

After ESL they decided to enroll me into high school, I went to the HS that I thought was going to be my cool “Saved By The Bell” experience and I was super excited to attend, at the interview they told me that 17 was too old to start with the normal kids so I needed to go to adult high school. My first day was boring; they put me in a classroom that looked like a huge room with chairs and tables where people would just read books and complete sheets of homework. I decided that I wasn’t going to let it stop me, I started doing more and more work and learn as much as I could, I made amazing friends. To make a long story short, they were all amazed that in just two short weeks I completed all the tests that I needed to graduate and finish the high school courses.

My parents then wanted me to jump into Accounting at the local college, I have to say that it wasn’t my first choice at all; I went to ELAOC and started Accounting, Data Entry and Business Management. I suppose that for being East Los Angeles it really wasn’t weird to have a Hispanic guy attend classes there, however the fact that I knew perfect English was a shock to them and I was discriminated against because I was not only a 17 year old that had just come to the country a month ago, but also because I sounded like a “valley girl” when I spoke. I became teacher’s pet in a way and I listened to all of her advice which opened my eyes to realize that her class wasn’t for me because it’s what my parents wanted and not what I wanted. She gave me her blessing and I changed careers into Cosmetology, I really, really loved it there! I felt that it was completely for me. The year I spent studying with her was so great that I kept taking her business class and it also helped to go hand in hand with Cosmetology. Two and a half years later I was graduating and I was top of my class. I never gave up on what I wanted and I went for it.

After I finished at ELAOC I applied to and was accepted to Cal State Long Beach, where I finally felt at home. Unfortunately I had to stop after 1 year due to circumstances out of my control, but I plan to head back to college in the very near future and finish my degree!

Advice to other nontraditional students:

Follow your heart and don’t let circumstances or anyone that tries to get in your way stop you. If you can see the goal in your mind than you can see it to completion and trust me, it will make you happy even if it feels hard during the journey.

Favorite inspiring quote:

 “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow”


Thank you so much Johnny for sharing your story with me and my readers! I know that when you return to college you will do great things and flourish!


You can read my Pearson Teaching and Learning blog post on Nontraditional Students by clicking HERE

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