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December 12
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]


Two months after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines, Leonel Gonzalez enrolled at College of the Canyons with the goal of becoming a psychologist.

The first semester is stressful for any freshman student, but for Gonzalez, who was still transitioning to his new life as a civilian, adapting to the demands and deadlines of college life was overwhelming.

Gonzalez reached his breaking point two months into the fall semester while sitting at a computer in his statistics class.

“I thought, ‘I’m done with this,’” said Gonzalez, who lives in Newhall. “I dropped my classes right then and there and left in the middle of class.”

But dropping out made him feel even worse.

“It hit me really hard because I felt like I was a failure,” said Gonzalez. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life outside of the military if I couldn’t handle school.”

Determined to succeed, Gonzalez returned to COC during the winter 2017 session.

“I just said to myself, ‘I’m just going to go and if I fail, I at least attempted it,’” said Gonzalez. “So, if I get an F, I’m going to get an F.”

With the help of his mother and father, professors, and the college’s Veterans Resource Center, Gonzalez has done a 180-degree turn.

Currently boasting a 3.9 GPA, Gonzalez will be the first in his immediate family to graduate from college when he receives his COC diploma on June 1.

Gonzalez, who is transferring to California State University, Northridge in the fall to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, never considered pursuing higher education after his rocky path to graduation at Hart High School.

“I didn’t even dream of it,” said Gonzalez. “My grades weren’t even close to what I have now. My time in college is the peak of my education so far. I’ve only had one B so far.”

However, his time at COC was also punctuated by personal setbacks, such as the hospitalization of both his parents and the loss of a veteran friend to suicide.

Gonzalez credits his success to his mentors and professors at COC, who were willing to work with him during those difficult times.

One of those professors was Michelle LaBrie.

“When I first met Leo, he was a bit lost and struggling, but I could tell that he is someone with really big dreams,” said LaBrie, who teaches psychology at the college. “I invited him for an office hour and we talked about his challenges, goals and his desire to pursue psychology as a major.”

Over time, LaBrie watched his confidence grow as he embraced the academic culture.

“He has worked very hard to achieve all that he has and has every reason to be proud of his accomplishments,” said LaBrie.

At the Veterans Resource Center, Gonzalez relied on the guidance and support of director Renard Thomas, who encouraged him to apply for scholarships. As a result, Gonzalez was awarded the COC Veteran Excellence Award and the Santa Clarita Valley Warrior Scholarship.

“I was impressed with how he followed all the direction and information he received from our office and developed strong study skills for his courses,” said Thomas. “He frequently visited the Veteran Resource Center, where he would sometimes do homework, socialize, ask questions to the staff and offer encouragement to other veterans.”

Gonzalez, who recently started working as a behavioral therapist for autistic individuals, says he will miss COC’s beautiful campus, but most of all, he will miss the people.

“I am grateful for the network I have created here and hopefully I create a good network when I go to CSUN,” said Gonzalez.

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2 Comments

  1. SCVTeam says:

    SCV Made

  2. janet Eminian says:

    Congratulations! Very inspiring story!

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HIGHER EDUCATION LINKS
LOCAL COLLEGE HEADLINES
Tuesday, Dec 11, 2018
After a new threat was discovered on the California State University, Northridge, campus, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D., released a statement regarding final exams scheduled for Dec. 12.
Thursday, Dec 6, 2018
The CalArts School of Theater production, Through the Leaves," directed by Brittney Brady (BFA 20), opens on Thursday, Dec. 6, and runs through the following Thursday, Dec. 13.
Thursday, Dec 6, 2018
Officials at California State University, Northridge, released a statement Wednesday regarding graffiti that was found in one of the buildings on campus - graffiti that included a threat of a mass shooting and hate symbols.
Tuesday, Dec 4, 2018
The Santa Clarita Community College District’s Board of Trustees will hold an organizational and business meeting at College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Monday, Dec 3, 2018
A 26-year-old man was charged with assaulting two women this week at California State University, Northridge, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
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Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]
After a new threat was discovered on the California State University, Northridge, campus, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D., released a statement regarding final exams scheduled for Dec. 12.
CSUN Instructs Faculty to Provide Alternate Exam Format After New Threat
LANCASTER – The University of Antelope Valley Pioneers (2-8) earned their second victory in as many contests, defeating the Flames of Bethesda University of California (1-8), 110-65, Monday, in intercollegiate men’s basketball action at the Pioneer Event Center.
Pioneers Roll Past Bethesda
Join the Valley Industry Association (VIA) as they review and close the 2018 year and formally install the 2019 Valley Industry Association Board of Directors.
Dec. 18: VIA 2019 Board of Directors Installation
1922 - Piru bank robbed, banker and daughter kidnapped [story]
The county of Los Angeles officially filed a comment on Monday in opposition to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Citizenship and Immigration Services’ proposed “public charge” rule change.
LA County Opposes Feds’ Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule Change
The next regular-organizational meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the Administrative Center, 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita 91350.
Dec. 12: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
The rhetoric of playing a full 40 minutes can easily overshadow the reality of a college team's effort.
Lady Mustangs Defend Their Way to Win Over Hawks
All things considered, the Mustangs could have found themselves in a worse position in the closing moments of Saturday's game in El Cajon.
No. 2 Mustangs Fall to San Diego Christian on Atencia’s Big Night
The University of Antelope Valley Pioneers (1-8; 1-0 Cal Pac) earned their initial win of the season with a 76-61 victory over the Golden Eagles of La Sierra University (2-8; 0-1 Cal Pac) on Saturday.
UAV Men’s Basketball Team Downs La Sierra 76-61 in Opener
The University of Antelope Valley Pioneers women's basketball team (8-2; 1-0 Cal Pac) routed the La Sierra University (3-9; 0-1 Cal Pac) Golden Eagles 106-46 in Saturday's intercollegiate California Pacific Conference women’s basketball action in Riverside.
UAV Women’s Basketball Team Routs La Sierra 106-46
The WiSH Education Foundation ends 2018 on a high note, having supported local public schools with more than $235,000.
WiSH Foundation 2018 Donations to SCV Schools Top $235K
The University of Antelope Valley is pleased to announce the hiring of Anthony Harris as its Director of Athletics.
Anthony Harris is New Athletics Director at UAV
The city of Santa Clarita will partner with the American Red Cross to provide a community blood drive at The Centre on Thursday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dec. 13: City, Red Cross to Host Blood Drive at The Centre
Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, introduced Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), legislation that will strengthen transparency in state agencies and stop agencies like the California High-Speed Rail Authority from taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to hold closed-door meetings without public involvement.
Wilk Intro’s Bill to Boost Transparency in High-Speed Rail, Other Agencies
Texas-born, Canyon Country-based blues singer-keyboardist Teresa James and her band The Rhythm Tramps have earned their first Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category for their 10th and latest album, "Here in Babylon."
Canyon Country’s Teresa James Lands Grammy Nomination
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station arrested a couple from Palmdale and a Simi Valley man on drug charges in the Park and Ride lot at Golden Valley Road off Highway 14 on Sunday, according to officials.
Deputies Arrest 3 on Drug Charges at GV Park and Ride Lot
The city of Santa Clarita has updated the list of productions shooting in the city and the Santa Clarita Valley for the week of Dec. 10-16, 2018.
‘GLOW,’ ‘Seal Team,’ ‘Killer Contractor’ Now Filming in SCV
Law enforcement and Coroner's officials discovered more human remains Saturday morning in the Santa Clara River bed in Newhall, near where a human skull was discovered Wednesday.
LASD, Coroner Investigating Human Skull, Remains Found in Newhall
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a cold weather alert for the Antelope Valley due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures Tuesday through Friday.
AV Cold Weather Alert Called for Tuesday to Friday
Several CalArtians are among the nominees announced Friday for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards to be handed out Feb. 10.
CalArtians Score Music, Tech, Graphics Grammy Nominations
Several CalArtians have been nominated for the 46th annual Annie Awards, which honor achievement in the art of animation.
CalArtians Nominated for 46th Annual Annie Awards
CalArts faculty and students are among the 2018 Arts Writers Grant Program recipients from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
CalArts Faculty, Students Win Writers Grants from Warhol Foundation
1941 - Three days after Pearl Harbor attack, 165th and 185th Infantry Regiments assigned to Saugus; Edison power substation guarded 24/7 [timeline]
1983 - U.S. release of John Carpenter's "Christine;" blew up fake gas station in Valencia [watch scene (R)]
1941 - Julius Dietzmann family of Castaic arrested as German enemy aliens [story]
Valencia-based H2scan has announced the Gen 5 System, a first of its kind hydrogen sensor package to help utilities monitor and protect their distribution transformers.
Valencia’s H2scan Unveils New Transformer Monitoring System
CalArts graduates are among the nominees for Golden Globe Awards the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Monday, recognizing excellence in domestic and foreign film and television.
CalArtians ‘Glow’ in 76th Golden Globes Nominations
The California Department of Education and the State Board of Education have launched the second version of the California School Dashboard, a website that gives parents, students and educators access to valuable school and district data.
State Launches 2018 School Dashboard; Hart Schools Score Well
The TMU Mustangs played a dominant defensive effort Thursday, holding Hope International scoreless in the third quarter of what became a 76-47 win.
TMU Women’s Basketball Team Nets Win Over Hope Int’l
The nonprofit Friends of Hart Park, in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, will present the 7th Annual Hart Holiday Boutique & Craft Fair at Hart Park on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Dec. 8-9: Holiday Boutique, Craft Fair at Hart Park
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hear comments from the public about the proposed Centennial Specific Plan Project at their next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 11: Supes May OK Centennial at Tejon Ranch Development
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Dec. 11, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 11: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Castaic School Board members held their Annual Organizational Meeting on Dec. 6, and elected officers and representatives of the Board for 2019.
Castaic School Board Elects Officers, Reps for 2019
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Friday that Amazon.com Inc. has agreed not to sell force-fed foie gras in California under a consumer protection settlement reached with her office and the Monterey County and Santa Clara County district attorney’s offices.
DA’s, Amazon Settle Force-Fed Foie Gras Online Sales Case