Student Success Corner: Turning Misfortune Into Opportunity

by Gustavo Comonian


Toby Seltzer, a Social Science major at WCC, wants to be a social worker so he can ease the life of those going through what he experienced.

“I lost my job, I lost my apartment, it seems like everything went wrong, and all at one time… But I don’t care what happens, I won’t let any of that stuff mess up with my education,” said Seltzer when describing what had happened to him recently that made him realize that the moment had come for him to put his pride aside and go ask for help.

“Don’t let your pride stop you from asking a question. “That is what Seltzer told himself to break the barriers that were stopping him from getting help. He then talked to some students, checked the bulletin boards around campus, and was finally directed to go talk to Debra Santora and Christine Carbone in their office in the Gateway Building.

Seltzer talked to Santora and he couldn’t believe how helpful she was: “She [Santora] helped me find a job, showed me rooms, gave me advice, she gave me so many options that I wasn’t even considering, that I didn’t even know they were there… she basically wrote down a map and told me to follow it so I would be more stable than I was at the moment—she did all of that in about half an hour!”

Seltzer has a plan, and the first step of that plan is to dedicate himself to get his degree, to grow, and then reach for his dreams, goals, and aspirations.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now if they [Santora and Carbone] didn’t help me, if they didn’t guide me, I would have gotten frustrated and stopped,” says Seltzer.

He is very grateful for all that Santora and Carbone did for him, and all the advice and guiding they provided.

“[Staying in college] is all I care about, this is my primary and major concern, everything else is secondary,” says Seltzer, now able to focus on his classes without so many distractions from life issues.

“I don’t believe in bad, I believe that everything is a learning experience, and it’s how you handle that experience that gives you either good or bad results… I know these things happen to make you better,” says Seltzer.

That is how Seltzer that is how he looks back at his problems, facing everything as a challenge, a way to improve and get stronger to face what life may bring.

Seltzer says that Santora and Carbone gave him motivation and clearance to stay in his path, to continue growing, and in the direction of his dreams. He now wants to give a message to the students of WCC: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t let your pride get in the way… we don’t know the answer to all the questions, but [Santora and Carbone] are there to help us find them,” says Seltzer. “If you can dream it, it can happen, but you gotta put in the work, energy and effort.”

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