When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in mid-March, William Zafra was about two months into the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program at Florida Career College in Miami. In response, FCC closed campuses for in-person instruction while preparing for a host of new COVID-19 precautions before reopening. With a heavily hands-on program being forced to go online, William rose to the challenge as a leader among students and helped others to stay motivated while the college navigated how to best respond to the pandemic.
Some of William’s classmates struggled with the transition and the new obstacles and responsibilities that come with learning online.
“I was helping the teacher with online classes by encouraging, motivating, and following up with the other students” William said.
“William took the responsibility as a student ambassador to a whole new level as we implemented online learning at the onset of the pandemic. He helped us to create a collaborative learning environment and gave other students the push they needed to continue,” said Dyron Garvin, HVAC Instructor at FCC Miami.
“It was a good feeling to do something for my class,” William said. “But, I’m not going to lie, it was hard.”
“I would leave work after a 10-12 hour day to come home and go to school all night. It was rough but it wasn’t impossible,” he said. “I kept telling myself to keep going and stay determined.”
William graduated in October with perfect attendance and a 4.0 GPA. At 41-years-old, William decided to pursue his education because it was a lifelong goal – something he said he’s wanted to achieve for almost 20 years. He became a father at a young age and decided to put off any educational plans to focus on working and supporting his children. Twenty years later, he has the time and capabilities to get the education he’s always wanted. William chose the HVAC program because he enjoys working with his hands and sees a lot of potential for growth in the field.
“I would like to congratulate William. He overcame so many challenges and sleepless nights while staying focused and consistent. Not only did he stay on track, he made perfect attendance every month while he remained on the President’s list for his academic achievements month after month. We are very proud of him. Indeed, Mr. Zafra, you will do great things,” said Marcela Munera, Executive Director at FCC Miami.
“I have this little saying – Y-O-U means you, only you. Nobody’s going to do it for you. At the end of the day, people can help you along the way but you have to do it,” William said.
“William’s determination, leadership, and self-starter attitude helped lead his class of fellow HVAC students to success. The experience he had at FCC wasn’t typical, but it has prepared him for a successful career because he rose to the challenge as a leader,” Marcela said.