Patrick Norambuena “One of the biggest keys to success in life is knowing how to take advice. But a lot of people are just too hard-headed.”

For Patrick Norambuena combining studies in history, art, and mechanics all fit together seamlessly. “Art is using your imagination to express thoughts. In mechanics, you have to use your mind to figure out how things fit together. And history is important because you learn about how people in the past solved problems to create things, like the pyramids. Now there’s a work of art.” One problem Patrick doesn’t have is finding words to express himself. And that may be because he’s learned to listen carefully to the words of others.

“My art teacher, Ms. Lopez, is great,” says Patrick. “On the first day of school she advised us to make sure a teacher is a really good one before we take their class. And she told us that the teachers really want to be there for us, if we just make the effort to ask for their help.” But Patrick also says that paying attention to valued friends can be a great help as well. “My friend, Carlos Hernandez, and I hang around together and help each other study and with life itself. Sometimes you’re just looking at one side of an issue and it really helps to have a friend who looks at things differently. A lot of times,” Patrick continues, “Carlos will give me advice about things that I don’t realize about myself.”

Patrick has found that his independence—with a banking job that has helped him pay for his studies—is an accomplishment he’s proud of. “I stayed out of school and worked, and I think that’s a good idea because now I’m ready to really go for that good GPA,” he says. But he also knows that when the chips are down, he’ll also have his family in his corner. “It’s important for parents to be involved in their kids’ lives, especially when they go to college. It’s easy to go in the wrong direction,” he continues. “And when that happens, sometimes the best people to turn to are your parents.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.