As a former home-school student, Peter Gonzalez never really envisioned himself becoming a leader of his peers.
His knack for gab and consciousness began to better reveal itself after Gonzalez spent his senior year at Righetti High School and then immersed himself in the Associated Student Body Government at Allan Hancock College.
Now the 20-year-old Santa Maria resident is representing more than 10,000 students as president of the organization and planning to major in mass communications.
“It’s definitely a learning experience,” Gonzalez said. “It’s exciting.”
Having found a place to belong, Gonzalez told Noozhawk that he and fellow student leader Lauren Kueffler are determined to keep more students on campus for extracurricular activities and want to debunk the false stereotype that students who attend a community college instead of a four-year university have failed in some way.
“I think that it’s really important for students to know what resources we have,” said Gonzalez, a third-year student.
Both Gonzalez and Kueffler, a 19-year-old Nipomo resident who was appointed as student trustee for the college’s Board of Trustees, served on the ASBG board last year and are involved in other campus clubs.
Sitting together just outside the Student Center on a recent afternoon in Santa Maria, the students said Hancock serves as a good in-between step for those hoping to transfer or go directly into the workforce.
“Really, there’s much more we have to offer,” Kueffler said, noting that the leadership class has helped her in several ways. “It makes me a better speaker. Everyone can have their input. My only advice to students is to get involved.”
Gonzalez said he was especially grateful that the college was able to add roughly 70 class sections with passage of a balanced budget, since so many students previously worried about getting into the right classes to graduate on time.
Both he and Kueffler serve on a number of college committees and refer to new college President Kevin Walthers as “very down with students.”
Parking and keeping students engaged were subjects of concern this school year, they said, also encouraging students to bring any other issues directly to them.
Although they’ve loved time spent at Hancock, Gonzalez said he intends to graduate next spring and to transfer to Pepperdine University, while Kueffler is in her second year and plans to finish up classes to soon transfer to UC Davis as an animal science management major.
“It’s a good place to grow as a student,” Gonzalez said.