Patricia Uechi

Student Spotlight: Patricia Uechi

March 24, 2023 Torrance, CA

When Patricia Uechi decided to go back to school, she knew she couldn’t do it alone. With a new baby at home, one son in elementary school, one at El Camino, and the oldest at Cal State Long Beach, Uechi built a support system so she could manage the responsibilities of a full-time college student who is also a full-time parent.

“During the pandemic, I lost my job at the airport, my sons’ schools were all online, then I had my baby, and I was just very overwhelmed,” said Uechi, who started at ECC as a sociology major this past fall. “I thought that doing something just for me would help me overcome all that. It takes a lot of planning with my husband watching the baby so I can do my online classes and homework, but I am finding everything I need at El Camino.”

Uechi hadn’t been in school for over 20 years, so she researched everything she needed to be successful. It’s already paying off; so far, she is earning mostly A’s. She credits her success to the support from Kristie Daniel-DiGregorio, her human development professor who helped her find resources and the strength to continue and not give up when she was ready to drop classes during her first semester.

Though she is taking all online classes, she goes to campus whenever she can to use the Writing Center, meet with her professors and counselor, visit the Warrior Pantry, attend club meetings, participate in events, and join workshops with Student Health Services. Having this kind of flexibility gives Uechi the chance to get the most out of her college experience.

“El Camino has more resources than I ever thought possible for people like me – those going back to school after a long break,” she said. “I think that sometimes people are afraid that they are too old, or it’s too late, or they’re not going to make it in college, but I approach it differently. I like my classes; I study to learn and to gain knowledge – it’s not for the grades. There is so much to do on campus!”

After she earns her degree at El Camino, Uechi plans to transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree and possibly pursue a teaching career. She’s already inspired her sister-in-law to become an ECC student and she plans to encourage many more.