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Growing her future: CVTC May graduate reflects on her college career

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Growing her future: CVTC May graduate reflects on her college career

college student, female, wearing CVTC sweatshirt

Adriana Bernal, of Eau Claire, received her high school equivalency diploma in 2022 and graduated with her associate degree in Landscape, Plant & Turf Management degree last week. She said CVTC gave her the tools she needed to succeed.

Adriana Bernal always wanted to go to college, but she wasn’t always sure that dream would become a reality.

When she was a teen living in Racine, circumstances pulled her away from finishing her high school studies and ultimately graduating. Therefore, the thought of going to college was far from her mind.

But Bernal, of Eau Claire, reinvented herself when she attended Chippewa Valley Technical College and obtained her high school equivalency diploma in April 2022. And, on Thursday, May 16, she graduated with an associate degree in Landscape, Plant & Turf Management with a new dream of starting her own business down the road.

“I’m following my passions,” she said. “I like plants. I want to start a business. I’m an artist as well. I want to put all of that together and do plants in an artistic way so we aren’t leaving so much of a carbon footprint.”

When Bernal was young, she would put random seeds into pots to see if they would grow. 

“Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. Most of the time, they died,” she said with a laugh. 

But her green thumb has flourished since then. 

Bernal began growing tomato plants and herbs after moving to the Chippewa Valley with David Selbera, her significant other and “number one supporter.” But when she caught wind of CVTC’s greenhouse on campus and the Landscape, Plant & Turf Management program, that’s all it took.

“Ana-Ramona Gregerson (CVTC college navigator) had mentioned that there was a greenhouse, and I pretty much told her, ‘Point me in the right direction,’ ” Bernal recalls. 

From stay-at-home mom to full-time college student at CVTC in 2022, Bernal said Selbera has been a source of support for her as she entered this new phase of her life.

“When I told him that I wanted to go back to school, he was like, ‘Go for it!’ ” she said. 

That encouragement helped Bernal as she made her college dream come true, she said. 

But for her, college wasn’t just about attending classes and taking tests. Bernal wanted everything CVTC had to offer. 

“I had never attended college. I had never even seen college settings. I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said. “I was going in completely blind.”

Within the first few months, Bernal learned about the Arts and Entertainment Club, Diversity Resources and other services the college has to offer. She wanted to make the most out of her college experience. Those opportunities at CVTC allowed her to grow and to meet a good group of friends.

“I realized there were a lot of resources hidden here,” she said. “As my first year when on, I came to know that more and more people really want you to succeed (at CVTC). 

“I’m reserved because high school didn’t go too great, but this is college. I told myself, ‘I’m going to see what I can get involved in.’ That was the step I wanted to take so I can make the best of my college experience and meet people and gain friends, which was amazing.”

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