Kristina Arvelo, Biological Science

Since she was a child, Kristina Arvelo's family would always encourage her to pursue an education that would allow her to one day support herself and stand on her own two feet. Now, she's determined to earn her associate's degree and eventually move on to her bachelor's and doctorate – with the intention of ending up in a career where she can help others stand on their own two feet.

"I want to get people who were injured back to where they used to be. Back up to walking or running. I think about what happened to the people in the Boston Marathon...people who lost limbs, and just a few months later were on prosthetics. I want to help people do everything they used to do, and to be a motivator on top of that," says Arvelo, a biological science major who hopes to one day work in physical therapy. "I feel like it would be an incredible experience to be able to help someone like that."

Drawn to NCC by the sense of inclusivity that she feels at the Monroe campus, Arvelo has relied on assistance in the form of tutoring from the Learning Center – a place she spends so much time that she, herself, was asked if she would consider becoming a biology tutor. Arvelo's parents first got her a tutor back in seventh grade. Coincidentally, this was the same year when a video in science class about the human body and the way it responds to pain and adrenaline first sparked an interest – an interest that Arvelo never forgot about.

"You think about how adrenaline might make you forget about pain if you break your leg. That just triggered something in me," explains Arvelo. ""In high school, I did a career survey and physical therapy kept reappearing as a match. Then I did some job shadowing and figured that it would be the best path for me to take."

As a student who also works two jobs, Arvelo has learned the art of balancing her schedule so that sleeping, eating and studying don't get interrupted. She's had a positive role model in her older sister, who has already completed some college and with whom Arvelo shares her late-night studying sessions. Family, she says, plays a big part in her success and will continue to long after she's one day finished with all of her education.

"My sister and I, we motivate each other constantly. We stay up all night studying. For me, it's all about family. If my parents weren't pushing me, I wouldn't be standing where I am today," says Arvelo. "My dream is to finish my schooling in Philadelphia and then to come back here and work and be close to my family. There's something about the nature of this area that I love, too, but as long as I'm in a job where I'm helping people in the manner that I'm training for, that's what's important."

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