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Wonderful grad shaves two years off of college experience

Rose Queen and 2019 Wasco High graduate Victoria Bernal utilized the Wonderful Ag College Program while in high school, shaving off two years of undergraduate work.

Now Bernal is attending Azusa Pacific University and will graduate this fall.

Bernal is majoring in cinematic arts and said her experience entering a four-year university as a junior was no different than entering as a freshman.

"I had the same opportunities to mingle, attend first-year student events and make lots of friends inside and outside my major, which was amazing," she said. "Academically, it was challenging at some point taking upper-level classes when I didn't feel experienced or qualified enough, but every professor assured me that I was in the right place and that I just had to work hard."

Bernal said the Wonderful Academy helped teach her valuable lessons, but nothing can prepare you fully for college.

"I speak for my former peers when I say that nothing could truly prepare you for the college experience," she said. "The social, cultural and atmospheric changes, along with becoming independent, takes a bit of adjusting to the college experience. Overall, I feel as though I was given the right academic resources to transition into college."

Bernal also said the financial benefits from the Wonderful program and the ability to enter the workforce early is a big help to her family.

"I've been extremely blessed with amazing academic opportunities given to me at an early age," she said. "They have truly helped my family and I along the way."

While at times she feels like she might have missed out on certain aspects of college life, it saddens her that she will not be able to graduate with her college friends, "but, I'm always reminded by my parents that this path is what's best for me and that they support me in all the decisions that have led me to this point."

Bernal was able to enjoy her first year at Azusa Pacific as a cheerleader before the pandemic hit.

"I was offered a spot on the cheer team last minute and was a great factor in me finally choosing to attend APU," she said. "Through that program, I met some of my best friends and was surrounded by Godly women who were very supportive and uplifting."

Bernal confessed that throughout the pandemic, distance learning was a challenge because she thrives best in a classroom setting being able to collaborate with classmates and physically being present in school. She said that she struggled with a lack of motivation to do anything related to school.

"Sometimes, I'm still unsure of how so many college students have endured it for an entire year," she said. "I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to go back in the fall and finish my last semester."

Bernal's spring 2021 semester was packed with challenging classes that kept her on her toes.

"My favorite class was my Screenwriting class," she said. "My professor was hilarious and made a writing class actually enjoyable. I had a fun group of classmates that were great writers and amazing people."

While Bernal doesn't have a least favorite class, she certainly had a class that gave her a lot of stress.

"My level 2 Production class was by far the most demanding and challenging," she said. "In this class we were in groups of three and had to write, produce, film and edit two films throughout the semester."

She added that she was the editor for the first film and remembers having several sleepless nights, breakdowns and times where she missed out on time with her family to do the big assignment.

"This class really taught me a lesson about group collaboration and how to handle situations that don't go according to plan," she said. "Although it cost so much of my time, it was all worth it to see that my classmates and professors loved it in the end."

Bernal said what she likes best as compared to high school is the level of diversity in the people she met and the experiences she faced.

"Going to school in the Los Angeles area has allowed me to be exposed to so much of the world I didn't know when I was in high school, she added.


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