Cristian Pena with Psi Beta Honor Society colleagues
Headed to Cornell next fall on a nearly full tuition scholarship ($42,000 a year), Collin College alumnus Cristian Pena says his experience at Collin College was unexpected in the best of ways.
After deciding not to play baseball in college, Pena enrolled at Collin College as a “last resort.”
“What I found at Collin was an environment among the faculty and student body that immediately accommodated my mind set,” Pena said. “The administration, faculty and advisors truly cared about the success of their students. It was empowering and made me feel like I could truly succeed.”
Pena, a future human biology, health and society major, said he recognizes the growth that took place in him at Collin College, both academically and personally.
“I matured tenfold while I was enrolled at Collin College,” Pena explained. “I now held my future in my own hands, and I understood exactly what that meant. Instead of being intimidated by the unknown, it excited me, and I couldn’t wait to figure out what the future had in store.”
While he’s grateful for the study habits he learned and refined, Pena says the relationships he built while attending Collin College are what he cherishes most.
“Administrators, such as Dr. Terry Hockenbrough, made me feel like I belonged in academia and was capable of doing great things inside and outside of the classroom,” Pena said.
He cites many instances where he learned things that went “beyond the lesson plan,” especially from honors professors Ryan Rynbrandt and Dr. Kyle Wilkison.
“I made two life-changing decisions while at Collin, one was joining honor societies Psi Beta and Phi Theta Kappa, and the second was joining the honors program, which gave me a different perspective on learning,” Pena said. “Both of these decisions enriched me and introduced me to a new intellectual community. I received inspiration and motivation.”
One of his motivators was his long-time advisor Dr. Joshua Arduengo.
“He kept me on track and was a fantastic consultant and reference whenever I had career questions or organizational/academic dilemmas,” Pena said.
Long term, Pena plans to earn a medical degree and a public health degree, with the goal of improving living conditions and healthcare opportunities worldwide.
“I aspire to be one of the pioneers that push for fair treatment of all individuals regardless of socioeconomic status,” Pena said. “Basically, I want to be a standard practicing physician in academic medicine, but work with policy makers to better mold the healthcare system to fit the needs of all individuals.”
Additionally, he hopes to get involved with Doctors Without Borders.
“I want to experience first hand the needs of the world and instill hope in people,” Pena said. “I want to be the physician that empowers.”