When Pablo Oquendo II was in the seventh grade – just 11 years old – he took his first college class at Lorain County Community College through the College Credit Plus program.
“Being so young at that point, I wanted to better myself. I wanted to learn more, push myself to do challenging work, and see how far it would take me,” Oquendo says.
That personal drive has taken him far. At 17, Oquendo earned his high school diploma from Lorain High School and an associate of arts degree from LCCC at the same time.
It was an accomplishment worth celebrating, made more so when Oquendo considers his circumstance. Born with OCA2 (oculocutaneous albinism) with visual and hearing disabilities, Oquendo had to learn at a young age how to work hard; a skill that he said helped him be successful in his college classes. Along the way, he received support from his instructors at Lorain High and at LCCC, and also from LCCC’s accessibility services, he says.
“My hard work and endurance are huge factors that led to the successful completion of my degree. Being vision and hearing impaired, I had to work way harder than others to get to where I am today,” he says.
Juggling high school and college at the same time was a lesson in time management, but Oquendo says the process helped him realize how much he is capable of.
“I discovered my love for completing difficult tasks. The CCP courses were challenging, and I discovered that I’m always ready for challenges,” he says.
In addition to his academic achievements, he’s also an accomplished musician. He played violin for Lorain High’s orchestra first chair, and can also play percussion and several other instruments.
Oquendo began attending Central State University on a Presidential Scholarship in fall 2021 studying computer science and engineering. He also plans to continue with his music, hoping to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in music and music technology/recording, in addition to his studies in computer science.
As he prepares for his future, Oquendo reflected on his achievements with LCCC’s College Credit Plus program.
“I am so blessed to have this opportunity. This all feels like a huge dream. I never thought I would make it to this point in my schooling and my life,” he says.