LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Kevin Leal has been named one of six recipients of the Mendocino College Foundation $1,000 Directors/Trustees Annual Fund Scholarship.
Leal finished his first year of “traditional” school in May 2012, having been home-schooled from kindergarten through high school.
Leal, who attended his first year of classes at the Lakeport Center, is majoring in liberal arts with a natural science emphasis. He plans to attend classes at the Ukiah campus in the Fall 2012 semester, then go back to the new Lakeport Center – which will be open by then – for the spring semester of 2013.
He says he is very excited about the beautiful new Lakeport Center, and cannot wait to take classes there.
Leal plans to transfer to Southern Oregon University, a small, public university in Ashland, where he expects to enroll in pre-med studies, with the goal of becoming a medical doctor. He is currently seeking opportunities to shadow physicians and volunteer at local hospitals.
The June day he met with foundation staff for his interview was the first time he had been to the Ukiah campus, and he was obviously delighted with all he saw. He explained that he is taking an online math course which requires a few face-to-face classes in Ukiah, and he was happy to have a chance to look around.
Leal said “the friendliness of the staff” during his initial inquiries, made Mendocino College an easy choice for him.
When classes started, he was delighted to find that he experienced the same warm welcome from the faculty. He especially acknowledged professors Bob Alto, Michelle Scully and Kathleen Wagschal for their assistance during his transition to college life.
Leal noted that he was shy at first because he did not know anyone, but he soon became part of an “awesome” community of fellow students. He is proud to be the the newly elected publicity director for the Associated Students of Mendocino College.
The most challenging part of his first year was the commute from his home near Middletown. “I spent a lot of time on the bus,” he said.
He is not kidding. The trip from his home to the Lake Center takes one and a half hours each way by bus, while the trip to Ukiah takes two and a half hours each way. “I am getting used to it,” he said.
The first person in his family to attend college, Leal said his parents are thrilled that he aspires to attend medical school. “I find medicine so fascinating,” he said. “I look forward to pursuing this goal.”
Leal said the secret to his success is that “I give school my all. Nothing is more satisfying to me than getting an A.”
And he has an impressive number of top grades to his credit. Unlike home school, where grades were not stressed, “It feels great to have my accomplishments acknowledged,” he said.
However, Leal admitted that he is not always a model student. “Procrastination is a bad habit I need to break,” he confessed, “as it often keeps me up until 3 or 4 a.m. doing homework.”
When he has the time, Leal loves to swim. He was on a local swim team for five years, and he works as a lifeguard at the Hidden Valley pool, near his home. He also likes to play video games.
Leal is grateful to the Mendocino College Foundation for selecting him to receive the Director's/Trustee's scholarship. “It’s quite the blessing, and I cannot thank them enough,” he said.
For more information about the Mendocino College Foundation, call 707-467-1018 or visit the foundation online at http://foundation.mendocino.edu/site/ .