Nearly every high school senior who aspires to attend college can tell you their “first choice” school. Yet sometimes it’s the second choice that winds up being the best one. That was certainly the case for Gaby Tenta-Bergeron, who attended high school at Bacon Academy in Colchester and was accepted to nearby Quinnipiac University. When circumstances prevented her from attending Quinnipiac, she needed another option — even if she wasn’t thrilled at first.
“Honestly, I thought about not going to college at all. I knew about Three Rivers, but I had this attitude that if you went there, it meant you weren’t special … like it was somehow just ‘high school 2.0.’ Once I got there, I realized I was wrong.”
Gaby gave Three Rivers a chance. As she quickly discovered, the notion of “high school 2.0” couldn’t have been further from the truth. Gaby started to meet other students and realized that TRCC “felt like college,” just as she’d always imagined it. Eventually, she got a job at the Student Programs Office, which runs the College’s activities and clubs. Gaby was even elected president of the College’s chapter of the National Honors Society. The more time she spent on campus, the more enthusiastic she became about all Three Rivers has to offer.
“College is what you make of it,” she says. “It’s more meaningful than high school.”
The College’s social opportunities weren’t the only positive aspect of Gaby’s time on campus. She also cites her professors, particularly the real-world experience that they bring into the classroom.
“A lot of the professors have life experience and professional backgrounds that go into their lessons,” Gaby says. “Some have Ph.D.’s. They’re more down to earth and have more to offer.”
Gaby also notes that while her professors’ strengths in the classroom have been invaluable, she’s equally appreciated their understanding of what happens outside the classroom.”
“The faculty at Three Rivers are understanding. They know that life happens. There are so many kinds of students on campus from different backgrounds, and the professors realize they have to be flexible.”
Gaby has never lost sight of her ultimate goal: to transfer to a four-year institution. A recent graduate, she’s now looking ahead to Southern Connecticut State University, where she intends to earn a Bachelor’s degree before pursuing a career in social work. She also plans to earn her Master’s along the way.
Having grown up as a foster child, she hopes to one day become a social worker and give back. She’s worked hard every semester and gotten the help she’s needed to prepare for her transfer along the way. Her advisor has been supportive from day one, and Gaby even refers to her as the “transfer guru.”
Gaby is excited for what the future holds, but she also admits that she’ll feel nostalgic about Three Rivers after she’s gone.
“If I could talk to my younger self, I’d tell her to give community college a chance. You learn a lot about yourself, you try new things, and when you’re ready for the next thing, you’re prepared.”
Gaby Tenta-Bergeron, Recent Graduate, Liberal Arts and Sciences, A.A.