South Bay Mother and Son Find Academic Success at El Camino College
Outstanding professors, interesting classes, and an education experience beyond their expectations – Torrance residents Lori and Trent Kalscheuer have many reasons why El Camino College was a great choice when it came time to pursue their academic goals.
The mother and son will graduate together this spring, earning associate degrees and a new outlook on their future and who they are as students. They will join El Camino College’s Class of 2018 at the 71st Annual Commencement Ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, June 8 in Murdock Stadium. The Kalscheuers are among the nearly 2,700 students who will receive associate degrees this year; more than 740 students will be awarded certificates.
Their individual journeys were different – Lori returned to college after a 23-year absence and Trent is a recent high school grad set to transfer to UCLA in the fall – yet, both found that El Camino College helped them realize their potential.
For Lori, earning her Associate of Arts degree is a result of hard work, patience, organization, determination – and bravery. She enrolled at El Camino College in spring 2011, picking up where she left off at Harbor College more than two decades ago. Despite being a good student while at Carson High School, Lori said she just wasn’t dedicated to her college classes. Soon she was married and then had two sons, focusing on her family and career – always intending to return to college. She made a few attempts at enrolling in ECC, then overcame her fears and prevailed on the third try.
“I just ran out of excuses, so I mustered up the courage and started with just one class,” said Lori, who works full time for American Honda Finance Corporation, where she has been employed for the past 13 years. “I had not set foot inside a classroom for more than 20 years; I was scared, and I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I could do it. It took so much personal inner strength to get to that point and once I got there – I just focused on the work and found that I could do it. And I liked it. Then, I became determined. Now, I will be the first in my immediate family to earn a college degree.”
Lori’s first class was “Philosophy of Religion;” she earned an A, one of many more to come. Her son Trent graduated from West High School in 2015 and followed the route to El Camino College. He said that ECC helped him reinvent himself as a student by providing opportunities to excel.
“El Camino College gave me a new perspective on who I am – I became a different, better student,” said the history major, who plans to focus on museum studies. “Going from a B/C average in high school to UCLA straight out of two years in community college – I never would have guessed that I could do that. ECC helped me meet my goals. The confidence I have in myself overall and my academics is amazing and has helped me become a great student. I feel ready for the challenges of UCLA.”
Trent enrolled in ECC’s First Year Experience (FYE), an award-winning program designed to challenge and support students during their first year of college.
“FYE was a great introduction to college and was a good transition for me,” Trent said. “My experience at El Camino College completely shifted my ideas of what school should be like.”
Trent will graduate with two degrees, one in history and another in arts and humanities. His work experience is also career-minded; he spent the last three years at the Lomita Railroad Museum, leading a redesign of the gallery/gift shop. He now works at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.
“Each student follows a different path while pursuing educational goals,” said El Camino College President Dena P. Maloney. “El Camino College inspires individuals to excel. The success of the Kalscheuers shows that a college education transforms lives.”
Through their college years, Lori and Trent have been each other’s support system. Likewise, each one is proud of the other’s accomplishments.
“I think it is wonderful about my mom graduating – we always supported her,” Trent said. “She works 8 a.m.-5 p.m. every day and then would eat dinner with us before going to class or to study. She has been working so hard and she has been really dedicated to this. We are so proud of her. Every time I’ve had a bad day at school, I would look at her and see that she has put in so much effort and it makes me think that I’m part of something really important.”
While Trent follows his dream of becoming a Bruin, Lori is also contemplating her next academic move.
“I am so amazingly proud of Trent and I am excited to see what he does, but I will not follow him to UCLA at this point,” Lori said. “I found a school that offers a bachelor's degree in organizational psychology. I may look into that.”
Lori’s husband Patrick also supported his ECC students. Their younger son, Vance, will be a senior at Torrance High School next year and he is now considering the path set by his mom and older brother when he graduates.
“I am so happy with the whole experience at El Camino College; I had excellent teachers and there has not been one class I have not been interested in,” Lori said. “And since I was returning to college, I had a different mindset. I was focused, and I had more of an appreciation of the opportunities available to me. I have learned so much. My college degree gives me such a nice foundation of knowledge – it is just fantastic.”
June 4, 2018