Clarissa Barra - Crafton Hills College
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—Learned to be a “Student of Life”

I’ve earned an AA in Mathematics from Crafton in 2018, four years after I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC Riverside in 2014. I once thought that the most stable path to success was just to go to college, get good grades, earn a degree, then get a job. I later realized that my path in life would be constantly changing, and that you sometimes find what you’re meant to do later in life. I came to Crafton after hitting a low point in life, I felt I just needed to be here. Despite having academically achieved a BA at a 4-year, it was my time at Crafton where I achieved a sense of self-confidence and fully embraced who I am and did I love.


I love the idea of learning new things and getting more education, but I couldn’t justify committing to heavy loads of student debt in a master’s program. Crafton was right for me at the time. Years ago when I attended UCR, I had a lot of anxiety and I feared stepping out of my comfort zone. Through difficult times and experiencing failure while engaged in real life, I had grew to become a confident woman that would eventually embrace failure as a leverage to success. Crafton to me was a second chance at life. I took classes that I wanted to take, purely for the learning experience. Pursuing education should be more than getting credits and a degree. Education truly enriches your mind and develops your thinking skills to tackle the hard problems in life and work.

I’ve always loved the idea of working in education. It just makes sense to me. I joined the Student Senate at Crafton and had the opportunity to work with ambitious students and compassionate staff. I admired these traits and took them with me to my current job. In addition to Student Senate, I teamed up with some friends at Crafton to try our hand at entrepreneurship. I found that I really loved teaching myself Microsoft Excel. It started off as a way to track finances and inventory, but it developed into learning how to use pivot tables, macros, formulas, and other powerful functions in the program..

Because of the confidence I’ve gained in myself and my abilities combined with a love for learning, improving, and Microsoft Excel, I graciously received the perfect job at a new medical school called California University of Science and Medicine in 2019. Being a start-up school, I found it extremely helpful to be able to have the courage to jump into something you didn’t know how to do with the optimism that you’ll be fine, and knowing to adjust when necessary. I get a chance to support students in their journey to becoming doctors, which is very fulfilling to me. My Excel skills vastly improved by being challenged to problem-solve more difficult tasks. I also got the opportunity to learn a new software, SPSS. It was only after working at this job that I realized my next steps in my academic career –to pursue a Master’s Degree in Data Science.

I’m deeply grateful for my education in academia and in life. At Crafton, I learned to be a “student of life”; to enrich myself with things I love to do, and to take everything around me as a learning opportunity. If I could give advice to my freshman self – it’d be to get out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to not always know where you’re going, and to enjoy the process.