daniel-ortiz-webMiddlesex Community College communication student Daniel Ortiz drove by the MxCC Meriden Center many times before realizing that’s where he would end up going to pursue his college education.

A graduate of Maloney High School in Meriden, Daniel says his grades in high school were mediocre, and his motivation was low. However, he noticed he did fairly well in English and could read and keep up with his Columbia-bound classmates.

With the encouragement of his high school English teacher, Daniel enrolled in classes at the Meriden Center, and his life would never be the same. Because of the diverse community there, he found himself tutoring English. He discovered he enjoyed helping others, and before he knew it, he became involved in everything from new student orientation, planning events for student activities and motivating his peers at every opportunity.

Daniel credits Judy Mazgulski, retention specialist at MxCC, for giving him this motivation. Acting as his mentor and his good friend, “She keeps me on my toes—she’s the best,” he says.

Judy encouraged him to become involved with the Meriden Center Student Association. Not only did he enjoy that, he recruited others to join. Later he became part of the larger student government organization at the main campus in Middletown. “We have a diverse group of outgoing students including veterans who get the job done,” Daniel explains.

ortiz_group2He also participated in summer orientation, seeing hundreds of current and prospective students choose to begin their experience at MxCC on the right foot. With the help of student volunteers, he conducted tours to orientation groups and acclimated them to the routine technology used at the school. He found satisfaction is seeing how people improved. This was an uplifting experience for him.

Daniel is passionate about his involvement in student activities. He also started the Ultimate Frisbee Club, arranged scrimmages and plans to compete locally. In the Fall 2016 semester, the student senate arranged a bus trip to Lake Compounce. He says sometimes the opportunity to engage commuting students can be challenging, but he feels that being involved can lead anyone to success.

It’s no surprise that Daniel’s favorite class is English. Professor Christine Ruggiero is his favorite teacher, and her passion for English inspires him. He loves writing and poetry, because it “excites the mind.” Daniel also admires Professor Victor Triay, who he describes as an “organic” history professor— bringing the past to back to life when he teaches.

For his future, Daniel is looking to attend Central Connecticut State University after he graduates from MxCC in May 2017. He will pursue a bachelor’s in communications and will definitely get involved with student activities there. As for a career, he sees himself working in public relations, overseeing projects that engage the community with a focus on fiscal responsibility.

“MxCC is a breeding ground for independence. It gave me the start I needed to find out what I wanted to do. It exposed me to different types of classes, with professors who are open and approachable. These more interpersonal learning experiences affect you as a person,” Daniel fondly reveals. “MxCC improved me and ultimately gave me the skills to confidently move on.”