Attending CCBC has given Ixtle Montuffar ample time to explore – time to explore areas of study, and time to explore cultures.
General Studies (Environmental Science)
“I was shocked with so many opportunities here,” said Montuffar, who is a first-generation college student. “Being able to go here and be a part of all these different programs and events really opened my eyes to how much there is in this world and how many paths I can pursue.”
Montuffar initially designated General Studies as his associate degree major, giving him freedom to discover his passions without the pressure to decide on a specific discipline. He enrolled in a variety of courses, meeting different professors who helped motivate and inspire him.
“I have been lucky to form lovely relations with many faculty, whether that be through courses, school events and activities or other school-related groups. It has been incredible to not only learn from faculty in an academic sense, but to also learn from them on a personal level,” he said. “It is important for educational institutions to have this sort of friendly faculty to encourage greater community involvement and academic participation.”
In addition to his coursework, Montuffar became an active member of the Garden Club at CCBC Essex, where he formed “incredible friendships.”
“It is crucial we all stay connected with nature and remind ourselves of the time, energy, effort, and people involved in producing every meal we eat,” he said.
Another formative experience for Montuffar was participating in a faculty-led study away trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to study the history, culture and natural environment of the Great Smoky Mountains.
“This was a life-changing experience that pushed me to take in-person courses after a year of online courses with the college,” he said.
Growing up, Montuffar didn’t have many opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds. That changed when he arrived at CCBC where the student body is rich in diversity. This was a comfort to Montuffar who is Hñähñu, a Native group from lands now called México.
“It’s been so amazing to be able to connect with so many different people from literally all backgrounds, all ages, all religions, all cultures … I can find similarities with students, and yet we all hold so many different perspectives and experiences to learn from one another,” he said.
The extra time Montuffar took to explore classes, delve into hobbies he enjoys and meet new people paid off. He plans to switch his major to Environmental Studies and pursue a career in ethnobotany.
“In my career I dream to work within ethnobotany as I am deeply enamored by cultures and their connection to the plants they have been connected to for generations,” said Montuffar, who wants to work with Indigenous communities globally. “I know I will be able to incorporate my own culture into this pursuit as well.”
Montuffar recently became a Fresh Faces student ambassador for CCBC. In this role he looks forward to sharing with others all the positive things the college has to offer.
“I hope to connect with even more people and explore greater passions while being a face for students who can connect with my story,” he said.