October 13, 2020
Most kids dream of becoming superheroes, but few of them actually put in the effort — radioactive spiders are hard to come by.
That’s not the case for Miguel Orozco, ’20, an incoming freshman at Foothill College who’s living out a lifelong dream. Orozco aims to be a firefighter and someday, a fire chief.
“As a kid, my favorite superhero was definitely Spiderman,” Orozco said. “He’s an average kid who gets powers, but instead of showing them off to his classmates as any teen would, he hides them so he can protect his neighborhood. I really admire that.”
While four-year colleges initially piqued Orozco’s interest, he decided on Foothill instead of immediately pursuing an advanced degree; as someone who wasn’t completely sure of his major, he felt that Foothill would allow him to cultivate his interests without being a financial strain on his family.
Orozco has taken his favorite superhero’s mantra to heart: With great power comes great responsibility. Currently pursuing an Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) certification and an associate’s degree in civil engineering, Orozco plans to transfer to a four-year university. Once transferred, he’ll complete not only a bachelor’s degree in fire protection engineering, but also a bachelor’s degree in paramedic science.
However, the extended shelter-in-place policies threw a wrench into his plan — Orozco’s fall semester is now completely virtual. His EMT certification, which is typically lab-heavy, adjusted its curriculum in accordance with distance learning. Some in-person labs were replaced with internships on local ambulances for hands-on experience, though these opportunities won’t be offered until the spring semester at the earliest.
“While I thought college life would be different, I didn’t think it would be different to this extent,” Orozco said. “I was excited to meet people who I hadn’t just gone to school with for the past four years, people from all walks of life.”
This year’s new student orientation was an underwhelming, four-hour-long Zoom meeting, a far cry from the typical campus tour and demonstrations.
“It honestly didn’t even feel like an orientation, just an informational video,” Orozco said. “None of the students interacted with each other — it was just the speakers talking for hours.”
Orozco, like any good superhero, has been able to roll with any punches distance learning throws at him. He remains excited to attend school events and connect with the Foothill community once guidelines relax.
“Meeting new people is definitely harder, but still doable,” Orozco said. “In my math class, some other students and I gave each other our numbers and created a study group. But for other classes like English, almost all of our work is independent, so trying to connect with others is difficult.”
Even with the limitation of distance learning, Orozco remains determined to pursue his childhood dreams — not having flashy superpowers or fighting supervillains, but helping out the community to the best of his ability.
“Of course, superheroes aren’t real,” Orozco said. “But by helping others, I can get as close as I can to actually being one.”