Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sofia Duarte is wrapping up her second year at Reynolds Community College. She’s an engineering major and wants to transfer to either VCU or Virginia Tech next year.

“Since I was very young, I really liked working with design. I even liked playing with Legos even though that’s very simplistic.” VCC50thLogo_Final-5in

But, the way forward wasn’t always quite so clear for Duarte, who was torn between engineering and architecture.

“In my senior year of high school, my mom suggested that I check out Reynolds since I didn’t really know what I wanted to do initially. She told me, ‘It’s good to maybe start somewhere where it won’t impact your family too much financially.’”

Since then, there’s been no turning back for Duarte who describes her community college experience as “a blessing.”

“I really appreciate having more of a one-on-one with the professor thanks to the smaller class sizes. I wouldn’t necessarily have that luxury starting out in a four-year university where a lot of students might be put into lecture halls the first or second year.”

Duarte, who can speak Portuguese fluently, describes herself as a “visual learner.” 

“I really like drawing and that has sparked innovation to build things or even just seeing interesting designs. It’s one of the ways I like to communicate.”

At Reynolds, Duarte has taken an active role in the college’s SOAR (Student Orientation Advising and Registration) program. Working as a student ambassador, she says, has been an amazing experience.

“It doesn’t even seem like work because I get to meet and work with faculty I would never have the opportunity to be close with.”

Duarte is determined to do well at Reynolds (she currently has a 3.76 GPA) and admits to taking the Myers Briggs test to better understand herself and what she’s capable of doing. 

“It’s not necessarily about just being a student. It’s about being more than a student, in my opinion. I try my hardest while also applying myself in other skill sets that aren’t necessarily academic. For example, at my job, I have to work with certain individuals and that requires people skills.”

Proficiency in those “people skills” (a.k.a. soft skills) like communication, decision-making, and time management will likely give Duarte a clear advantage when she eventually leaves college and embarks on what promises to be a rewarding career; one she’s had designs on for a long time now.'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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