Meet 2018 Study Abroad Scholar Jonathon Torres

The Contra Costa Community College District has a great study abroad program – but some years, no one from CCC applies at all!

Retired Chancellor Dr. Helen Benjamin and retired Senior Dean of Research & Development Tim Clow want more students to be able to take advantage of this experience. That’s why they decided to create the Contra Costa College Benjamin-Clow Study Abroad Scholarship.

Since its inception in 2012, the Study Abroad scholarship has supported several CCC students in their overseas studies.

The winner of the 2018 Study Abroad Scholarship is electrical engineering student Jonathon Torres, who will be studying in London this fall. Studying abroad is a unique opportunity for Torres, who has never left the country.

“The Study Abroad Scholarship means a lot to me. Growing up as a minority, I didn’t have the opportunity to travel.”

It took some encouragement for Torres to apply.

“I wasn’t going to at first,” he admits, “but my mentors told me to go for it, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. So I applied.”

Most of the courses he’ll be taking in London are transferable to UCs and CSUs.

“I’m registered for Intro to Literature, British Culture and Life, Physical Anthropology, and a class called Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion. All these classes are transferable.”

But, study abroad is about so much more than taking classes.

“I’m most excited about seeing new places and traveling,” Jonathan says. “I want to see the differences between our cultures. And I’m really excited to network.”

For Torres, bringing his own experience back to his community is crucial.

“Study abroad will be amazing educationally and for me as well – to find out what I’m made of. But it also means a lot to the cities of San Pablo and Richmond. I want my experience to inspire others from my community.”

The scholarship’s creators believe that this kind of cultural exchange is one reason study abroad programs are so vital.

“We think it’s important that our institutions within this District reflect the communities they come from,” explained Clow. “When students come back, we want them to share their experience with fellow students.”

Torres has already begun encouraging his peers to consider study abroad. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity. Don’t be afraid to apply, I say. Take the time. Have mentors. Because that hard work pays off.”