Vivian Morales, Communication Design Student

The Internet has made once-exclusive design tools accessible to everyone. Furthermore, with the advent of sophisticated phone cameras, almost anyone can be a photographer these days. For Vivian Morales, she's focused more on how acquiring design and photography skills can not only get her further in a career, but also get her further in life.

Prior to college, New Jersey native Morales struggled personally and academically, used to hearing those around her predict that she wouldn't be able to make anything of herself. When her stepmother -- who was taking classes at NCC -- suggested that she drive to the college and see it for herself, she didn't expect to immediately feel at home. Home, however, is what the college has become to her over the last two years.

"I really wanted to feel what it would be like to live on my own and to take care of myself, and to try to become more responsible for me as an individual," says Morales. "But back then, I was a totally different person. I was shy, and closed off. When I first got here, I was thinking that it was a great place but that I really didn't want to talk to people."

With the encouragement of family, faculty and staff, Morales was testing the waters with several student clubs by the start of her second semester. She's since served as the secretary of the Outdoors Club, has been involved with the International Student Organization (I.S.O.) and Hispanic American Culture Club. Living in the dorms was also having an impact, as she took on the responsibility of becoming a CA (community assistant) in the residence halls. She also began to peel back the layers of what she was learning as a graphic design student, embracing the fact that tackling everything from typography to photo editing will allow her to one day flourish in the field.

"I would really love to be a magazine editor. I would love to be a photographer for National Geographic, as well," says Morales, who is transferring to Mansfield University in 2014. "I feel like as long as I have a camera in my hand and computer at my side, I'm happy. Here at NCC, though, I really feel like I've changed. I never even thought that I would get to the point where I'm at today."

Morales has not only grown to be a part of the NCC community, but she's also learned to give back in the greater Lehigh Valley community. She's volunteered her time for several local organizations on top of working several jobs on campus. These experiences have all given her more confidence and have also increased her own awareness of the responsibilities that she'll face beyond NCC's doors. The difference between two years ago and now, however, is that she's ready for them.

"I know how I want to make my living," says Morales. "Just having people here sit down with me and say you are somebody and you can make a difference made me want to go out and be a part of the world."

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