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El Centro Students Find Strength in Community

This article appeared in an August 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

“Hello. My name is Curtis Lee and I am El Centro Strong.”

The room remained silent as Curtis Lee approached the microphone to speak. It was the Aug. 2 meeting of the DCCCD Board of Trustees, four weeks after the tragic shooting in downtown Dallas that killed five police officers.

 “I am a graduate of the [El Centro College] Class of 2016, and I work in the office of Student Life.”

Curtis was wearing a light gray vest over a crisp, white long-sleeved button-down — clothes that conveyed professionalism and purpose. His low, steady voice relayed a sense of resilience and strength.

 “El Centro is not just my school or place of employment,” Curtis continued. “El Centro is my home. El Centro has given me so many opportunities, and it has allowed me to give back what has been given to me. It is not just a building of brick and mortar. In the past four years I’ve spent just as many days and hours there as I’ve spent anywhere else. El Centro actually helped me change my life. I will forever be in debt to this institution for solidifying my foundation — it has heightened my values, self-worth and confidence in my academic abilities.”

Curtis looked up from the podium and made eye contact with his listeners.

 “I love my El Centro family,” he declared. “El Centro is unique from all the other colleges in the district. The students, faculty are a diverse group of people, but the diversity here creates an environment for people of all walks of life to grow and create friendships that will last forever. The diversity is what makes El Centro so special. I consider the faculty, students, staff and administration my extended family. The events that took place on July 7 have affected us all, but one thing I do know about my El Centro family is that we will be there for one another as a family. And as a family we will get back to the business of changing lives through higher education. And now I’d like to show you a video featuring other members of my family who are also #ElCentroStrong.”