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Columbia College Graduate Travels Rough Path

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Columbia, CA — To look at Krista Sabados today, no one could even guess how challenging her life´s path has been and how far she has come.

Twenty-something, very articulate, obviously intelligent, and with a beaming, infectious smile. Her academic track record is impressive by anyone´s standards: associate in arts degree in social science/liberal studies from Columbia College, bachelor´s degree in sociology from University of California, Santa Cruz, and she will be working on her master´s in a multi-disciplinary area, combining an emphasis in American history and adult development in education.

In May, Sabados received the 2005-06 Dean´s Undergraduate Award and a Chancellor´s Award from UC Santa Cruz. Her selection was based on the submittal of her thesis titled “Overcoming the Odds: An Exploratory Analysis of the Community College Transfer Processes of Academically and Socially Disadvantaged UCSC Students.”

By age 17 when she left home, Sabados had attended 13 elementary and middle schools and three different high schools. Her parents, now divorced, moved constantly in her younger years throughout the West Coast. During her senior year at Escalon High School, she lived alone in a nearby trailer camp through the generosity and support of members in the community. “I worked 30 hours a week and people there were very kind to me, even leaving food from time-to-time on my doorstep,” she said.

“People with my background do not typically go to college,” said Sabados. “My friends from high school did not attend college and either started having babies right away, or worked at low-end jobs. I wanted something more and moved on.”

Moving on meant attending Columbia College in Sonora on financial aid and working part-time as an intern at the Regional Learning Center. In 2000 Sabados enrolled in a history course, taught by Professor Ted Hamilton. She earned “B” grades with her first two courses from Hamilton and then registered for a class from Dr. Paula Clarke, an anthropology and sociology instructor. Clarke remembers that Sabados exhibited crude behavior, was loud and unkempt, and took notes on artist sketch pads due to her large handwriting.

Hamilton and Clarke, who use interdisciplinary teaching methods to provide wider historical, political and sociological perspectives for their students, are also married. They saw the chaos in Krista Sabados´ unstable life, caused by a dysfunctional family, divorced parents, insecurity and financial hardship. What they further saw was her individual resilience, which they encouraged.

According to Sabados, “I did not have the skills needed to be successful in most academic and professional environments. I think taking courses with Ted and Paula and being receptive to their various teaching strategies enabled me to learn the behaviors necessary to be successful and effective. More importantly, I am learning effective leadership practices needed to move institutions in directions that are more pertinent to today´s society. I realize, too, that this type of learning is a lifelong process.”

Among today´s educators, two commonly discussed goals are transformational learning and student success. Krista Sabados is a good example of both but like everything else; the student must be willing to take the first step to begin the journey.

Written by Columbia College Staff

Posted by: Sabrina Sabbagh