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Ixtle Montuffar

CCBC President's Distinguished Graduate, General Studies (Environmental Science), '23

Photo of Ixtle Montuffar

Attending CCBC has given Ixtle Montuffar ample time to explore – time to explore areas of study, and time to explore cultures.

“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 their associate degree major, giving them freedom to discover their passions without the pressure to decide on a specific discipline. They enrolled in a variety of courses, meeting different professors who helped motivate and inspire them.

“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,” they 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 their coursework, Montuffar became an active member of the Garden Club at CCBC Essex, where they 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,” they said.

Montuffar participated 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 study-trip was a formative life-changing experience that pushed me to take in-person courses after a year of online courses with the college. 

Growing up, Montuffar didn’t have many opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds. That changed when they 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,” they said.

The extra time Montuffar took to explore classes, delve into hobbies they enjoy and meet new people paid off. They plan 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 with cultures and their interrelation 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 they look 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,” they said.

Montuffar was named 2023's President’s Distinguished Graduate award recipient, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in General Studies and a certificate in Global Studies.

Up Next: Earning a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.