GCC SGA President Finds Voice to Advocate for Others

Thursday, March 28, 2019

GCC Student and Student Government Association President Monica Maldonado never expected to go to college, yet her journey exemplifies how transformative education can be.

A quiet child, Monica now sees herself as an activist. She established Choose 2 Reuse, GCC’s Earth Day Event and moderated a panel of professionals to discuss voter suppression. The Empowerment Expo, her latest event, was aimed to educate voters and the voter registration efforts on campus since last fall have resulted in approximately 100 new student voters.

Monica recently testified before the Appropriations Committee for community college funding. Yet her path to college was not intended when she moved out of her home at age 16 and left high school before senior year had ended.

Monica earned her GED right away, entered the workforce and found a job working as a project manager for a fire alarm systems company. She saved up enough money to start her own real estate investing company flipping houses to make them more energy efficient, but her inexperience showed and she found networking events awkward and difficult.

In an unlikely turn of events at a very difficult time, she befriended a psychology professor who questioned why she never went to college. When Monica explained that no one was there to show her the path to continue her education, plans were made to visit GCC the next day. Monica enrolled in the Environmental Science and Toxicology Associate Degree program.

She began finding her voice during a Public Speaking course, where she followed the advice to speak about something she was passionate about. Having an interest in issues impacting the environment, there was plenty of material to choose from and she found a comfort level delivering speeches.

Soon she started to look into Student Government and was quickly recruited as Vice Chairman of the Campus Activities Board. The following semester, she became SGA Vice President.

Monica said that the change that she has experienced feels like a spiritual journey, where she is ultimately searching for meaning and purpose. She is passionate about voter education, noting that her mother has never voted in an election and she sees this as a problem in her whole community.

“I can do something about it and I started talking,” Monica said. “Listening to the students, you lose yourself in all of it. I’m here to serve.”