Don Caluya has already come a long way. But he’s just getting started.
While many people dream of traveling, Caluya’s target destination is in the night sky, about 239,000 miles away. He wants to be one of the next people to fly to the Moon, and one of his earliest steps toward that goal was on the campus of St. Clair County Community College.
“As an immigrant from the Philippines, I didn’t believe I had any chance of attending college,” Caluya explained. “SC4 allowed me to break generational barriers which gave me the confidence to follow my educational and career aspirations. Once I became engulfed in college classes at SC4, I knew that I could do more with my life.”
Caluya graduated from Port Huron Northern High School in 2008, and initially wanted to be an architect.
“When choosing a college, I looked for an option that was cost-effective, but which also had a great history and reputation,” Caluya said. “SC4 checked all the boxes and I was able to accomplish my education goals.”
SC4 offered Caluya the opportunity to get started and prepare for the bigger things he had planned.
“I got the best education at a fraction of the cost,” he said. “SC4 has top-notch educators who love their jobs and are willing to go above and beyond to help their students. The staff made helping people their top priority. They assisted me with all of the steps, including admissions, financial aid, and registration.”
Caluya is also excited about the Challenger Learning Center at St. Clair County Community College that will open on SC4’s campus in early 2022.
“The Challenger project within SC4’s walls will be the pride of the community,” he said. “It’s the first of its kind in Port Huron and the only one in Michigan. SC4 students and the community will have the resources and tools to be prodigious!”
After SC4, Caluya joined the U.S. Air Force, where he had the chance to travel all over the world. He became the proud father of “the most beautiful little girl in the world.” After the Air Force, he attended The Ohio State University, graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in aviation and air transportation. He’s currently pursuing his master’s in business administration at Lindenwood University while working for The Boeing Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
“Long term, I’d like to be a test pilot for NASA, SpaceX, or Boeing,” Caluya said. “But my ultimate goal is to become an astronaut.”
Caluya has fond memories of his time at SC4 and believes that community college is a great place to start for students regardless of their long-term plans.
“Community colleges like SC4 provide not just an excellent academic infrastructure, but they also provide students hope, encouragement, support, and pride,” he explained. “SC4 gave me, someone from a small town in the Philippines, a sense of confidence and self-worth. I’m thankful to those who helped me along the way… my dearest and sincerest thanks.”
“Everything worth having has a stable foundation that it’s built on,” Caluya continued. “For me, this foundation came from Port Huron and SC4. Even though my bachelor’s diploma says, ‘The Ohio State University,’ it should also say ‘St. Clair County Community College,’ because a quarter of my credits came from there.”
Caluya also noted that NASA and large aerospace companies have programs that target community college students. The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program offers support to students looking to enter the field. “NASA never overlooks top talent,” he said, “and they know the worth of these local institutions.”
Whether your dreams are in the stars or a bit closer to home, SC4 can help you get there. Just ask Don Caluya, who’s already come a long way but is still looking up.