“I want to make an impact in the world and I view education as a gateway to that opportunity. I am thankful for what my two-year institution was able to give me, but I see legal practice as my path to social change and I need far more eduation to attain that goal.”
Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Recipient
Lawyer / Legal Scholar, Philosophy
Classics, Computing / IT, Film / Photography, Government, Honor Society, International Economic Development, International Relations / NGOs, Leadership Development, Liberal Arts, Literature, Mock Trial, Nonprofits, Outdoor / Mountaineering / Camping, Performing Arts / Theatre, Philosophy, Politics and Diplomacy, Social Science / Anthropology, Student Government, Volunteer Work, School Activities, Reading, Current Events, Movies, Music, Watching College Football, Languages (Spanish)
Profile: Recently Steve Crist graduated from Valencia Junior College and at the commencement ceremony he was named the school’s Valedictorian and “distinguished graduate”. For the Ohio native who had dropped out of high school a decade before, bounced around between several low-end jobs and then spent several months homeless, it was a major milestone. “I had never graduated from anything before – ever. The experience, and the contrast between this and my previous life, was one of the proudest moments that I have ever felt. It was easy to look back at the last several years and see precisely how much I had grown. It was nice to finally give my family something to be proud of.” Steve will say heading south from the Midwest to Florida to visit new places and meet new faces had everything to do with his life’s turnaround. “I think the most pivotal moment in my life was packing up and moving without anything or anyone that I knew from back home . . . It wasn't until I moved south that I was able to free myself from the expectations and judgments of those around me and grow into the person that I was genuinely capable of being. When I arrived in Florida I was, for the first time, able to be receptive to changing my attitudes and perspectives on the world. It was here that I developed a less selfish perspective, and an expectation that I could – and should – make a difference in the lives of others.”
Inspiration: Steve said that his honors director at Valencia, Dr. Valerie Burks, is the person who has most influenced his decisions over the last several years. “Dr. Burks has consistenly pushed me to act with integrity and ambition, and not to settle or compromise for less than I am absolutely capable of.”
Aspiration: Steve is hoping to earn his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and hopes to take some pre-law courses. Law school is then in his plans with a career as an attorney.
Making a Difference: After leaving his full-time job and becoming a full-time student, Steve became heavily involved in Valencia's honors program and was elected as the first West Campus VP during the founding of a new honors student advocacy body. “I went on to be elected as the two-year representative on the Florida Collegiate Honors Council representing honors students for the entire state.” The following year Valencia students elected Steve to the HSAC President's position over the entire college. “I worked, together with my board and honors director, to draft a constitution and an honor code, to draft a blueprint for the shape of a new honors college, to plan service and fellowship events, and to counsel other students on their own academic options.”
Accolades: Steve was named the 2011 Distinguished Graduate, an award given by the Valencia College Alumni Association. He was also recognized by Honors in Action: Distinguished Issue Award - Phi Theta Kappa International.
Interesting Fact: When Steve began college at Valencia he was working a full time job at a luxury suite in Cinderella’s Castle, a beautiful hotel within Walt Disney World. Working the overnight shift so he could attend classes during the day, Steve used to do his homework while taking care of the guests in the suite. “It was a really interesting job, and a time of my life that I treasure – it was like having an entire theme park to myself.”
Other Scholars Like Steven
Undergraduate Transfer Scholar
University of Washington, Seattle