SAN MARCOS — Three students who participated in developing Palomar Pathways during their time at the college have gone on to universities in pursuit of higher degrees—examples of the very success they helped to envision for their peers.

Crystal Figueroa, Kory Nokes and Aimee Perez were three of the original Student Ambassadors, representing thousands of current and future Palomar College students who will benefit from a clarified, simplified experience, from enrollment through completion.

During a recent interview, the three alumni—who became friends while serving on the Guided Pathways committee—discussed their experiences while they studied at Palomar and helped shape the college’s instructional approach.

They were recruited to the committee personally by Interim Superintendent/President Dr. Jack Kahn, then serving as Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction.

“We are so proud of our Student Ambassadors and the work we have done together to improve the student experience at Palomar College,” said Dr. Kahn. “These three individuals are exemplary in their commitment to Palomar College, but more importantly, in the pursuit of their goals through higher education. We wish them all the best, and thank them for their good work.”

Figueroa, who lives in San Marcos, came to Palomar from Mission Hills High School. She said she discovered her love of computer science at Palomar and is now studying at UC Merced, where she will earn her Computer Science & Engineering degree in December.

“Once I was at Palomar, it was definitely easy to find what I wanted to do,” said Figueroa. “And now Guided Pathways lets you start your general education, even if you don’t know what you want to do—to buy a little time.”

Nokes came to Palomar College as a member of Transitions, the “Corrections to College” program, and soon discovered his love of mathematics. He now works in Palomar’s Counseling Department while studying at Cal State San Marcos, with plans to pursue his PhD.

“I had a lot of people in my corner, who really helped me get where I wanted to go,” said Nokes, who used a variety of pathway-language to describe his experience at Palomar. “My favorite part of Guided Pathways was the student meetings we had. We really respected each other, and we were really able to talk about things as students—what we needed.”

Originally from Vista, Perez moved to Riverside County as a teenager to attend John F. Kennedy Middle College High School. She returned to North County to attend Palomar—and in the process discovered her path to the future.

“I thought I was going to be a nurse, but my first semester at Palomar, I took a psychology class and I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’ So I’m a psychology major now,” recalled Perez, who plans to finish her bachelor’s at UC San Diego before doing clinical psychology work and then pursuing her doctorate.

Of five original student ambassadors, one was an Italian exchange student, and majors ranged from math to film to computers to psychology: “All of us are different majors, we come from different backgrounds with different things we wanted to get out of Palomar,” said Perez, “so I think it worked really well that we could say, ‘We come from different backgrounds, but we all agree on this.’

“A lot of times, students don’t know where to go to talk about their experience,” she added. “But even in our classes, we had flyers, we had stickers—everything to get the word out: ‘The administration is trying to hear your voice.’”