A visit to Midway College confirmed it.
“I had been to a college fair at a big school and when I saw how large some of the classrooms were, I got overwhelmed,” she said.
“At Midway, the classes are small and I really liked the environment. Everyone smiled and said ‘hi.’
“If someone saw that you needed help finding your way, they made sure to stop and help.”
To make her college dream a reality, Portillo received tuition assistance through Midway’s Pathways Scholarship, a competitive, need-based minority scholarship that reflects the College’s recognition of the value of cultural diversity in its learning environment.
She says the scholarship is something she’s thankful for each day.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to be here because of my scholarship, and it’s something that I definitely don’t take for granted.”
Once she arrived on campus, Portillo wasted no time getting involved, holding work study jobs in the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Multicultural and International Affairs.
While that has kept her busy, she is most proud of the work she has done with Midway’s PATH Mentoring program.
The program allows her to mentor local female minority students who are preparing to pursue a postsecondary degree.
“The mentoring program has helped me a lot with meeting new people,” Portillo said.
“We have speakers who train us as mentors each month, and they help me appreciate what I have and show me how many different ways there are to succeed.”
Now a junior, the Bryan Station High graduate and nursing major, still feels she made the right decision.
“My classes were small in high school and I got used to having that one-on-one communication with my teachers,” she said.
“I love that Midway College is such a small community. I always feel like I can talk to anyone here when I need help.”
Midway may be small in size but it doesn’t lack diversity, Portillo said.
“There’s a great international community on campus and I’ve loved getting to know people from all kinds of different places,” she said.
Looking back at her own journey to college, she has some parting advice for students who are in the search process.
“I would suggest getting help with scholarships,” she said.
“I think focusing on scholarship opportunities is a huge part of finding the right school.”