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TRIO Student of the Month: Desi Kuntz

When I moved to St. Clair from New York City, I was looking for the next step to further my career. I am a musician first and foremost, but I needed stability — a solid job and schedule. I saw that SC4 offered several different engineering majors and I decided it was worth trying out a class or two to see if I liked it. It turns out I absolutely loved it.

Moving to St. Clair after living in NYC was jarring. I loved my new surroundings, but aside from a few family members, I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know how to drive. I’ve fought with manic depression and anxiety since I was about 8 or 9 years old, and both were at an all-time high. I found some jobs within walking/biking distance and saved up money, and with driving lessons from my father and family chipping in, I got my first car. After that, it was all about forcing myself to explore the surrounding areas, where I stumbled across SC4 and met more people.

Neither of my parents went to college, and I didn’t really know how to “do” the whole college thing. When I went to college for the first time at 18, I didn’t take it seriously. This time I knew I wanted to be focused on my goals and learn as much as I could. I heard through a friend who was already in TRIO that it would benefit me greatly if I could get in, so I applied.

TRIO helped me outline my goals and plan out the steps I needed to graduate within a realistic timeframe. They helped take out the guesswork and treated me like a real human being, not just another faceless student with a number. I also appreciated that TRIO checked in with my teachers to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to and remind the teachers that I may need some help.

I’m so grateful for the professors I have had for inspiring me to do my best, my advisors for looking out for my academic and personal well-being, the truly gifted students who were willing to lend their help and give advice while expecting nothing in return, the best physics tutor ever (Callahan), and the work-study opportunity in the Fine Arts Department with Celeste Skalnek and Debbie Sta Cruz.

I would definitely recommend the TRIO program to other students, but only to those who won’t squander the opportunity. There are only so many people that can be in the program, and I made sure that if I’m taking what could be another student’s spot that I would use it to my fullest. TRIO will help you, but you have to help yourself first and allow yourself to be helped.

My number one goal right now is to enjoy the process. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the goal that life passes by, and I want to savor every moment. I try to be honest, humble and sincere, and I hope to inspire others to try their best and remain focused. It always comes back to my favorite quote from Sir Isaac Newton: “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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