2019 Spring Beginnings and Endings

Acabado translated means finished and even sort of worn out.   It isn’t really a word that brings up images of pretty bows or polished finish.  I have learned to like the name of this grant because I think we learn the most when we push ourselves the hardest.  Our learners investing their passion in science, technology, engineering and math will need to know how to pour their efforts into sticky challenges and manage the messiness of an amazing era of innovation.

OC STEM Project Acabado’s  aim is for tomorrow’s STEM professionals to point to the Oxnard Plains as both their childhood home and the birthplace of their professional passion.

At OC we have Illumineers.  This is a cadre of student workers who serve as embedded learning support in math and science classes. They provide just in time learning support, mentoring and intentional community building.  Here’s the results. The number of students using the STEM Center is up 1691% in Oct. from a baseline in 2016. The number of hours students use the STEM Center is up 2433% in Oct. from a baseline in 2016.

I attribute this result to the Illumineers and the math and science professors leading the classes.  The work of learning is so much easier when it is active, engaging and with people you’ve come to know and value.

Here’s what this semester’s Illumineers said when I asked them what they say to themselves at the beginning and endings of projects.


When I begin something new, I first say to myself “Are you ready?” because I need to be sure of myself before commiting time and energy into a project.  Bryan Villalobos-Benitez

I always say to myself “Here we go!” before I begin a project. Staring at a blank piece of paper or starting a fresh test is always the hardest because my mind needs time to think and process the situation.  Agustine Benitez

Before I start a new project I always prepare and gather the materials that will be needed and make deadlines for myself to complete the project.  Antonio Medina

I analyze what it is i’m doing first, and if i can do it I then I tell myself to take a breath, stand up straight, and go for it.  Esteban Lopez

Whenever beginning a new task, I tell myself, “I can do this! I will be successful!” I always try to keep a positive mentally going through my head. I tell this to people because I believe the moment that a bad thought is thought of, it can change your mood about the project that your working on. As I always say, it just takes one person to ruin a party. This is why i stress the idea that staying positive in times of distress is the key to winning. It is important to stay on track of the goal that I have planned. Also, if I do fail, then I’m going to fail beautifully with a firework show. Why would i say something like this? It because even in failure, there is a positive outcome in it. We learn from our mistakes and strive to fix ourselves in order to continue to succeed.  Jacob Ramirez

When I begin a project I tell myself to not be afraid of the unknown. New adventures are always a little scary but with the right preparation and people around you anything is possible.  Jaime Lopez

Having a clear path before hand helps a lot and self encouragement goes a long way.  Javier Rodriguez

I usually ask what am i getting myself into, which is followed by deep thought of if the project actually feasible or not. Furthermore, do I have enough, time, money, and skills to complete it. If I satisfy all three topics I start a rough outline of my goals and start.  Laz Garza

Starting anything new fills me with dread and anxiety. The perfectionist in me always wants everything to be 100% excellent. When I want everything to be perfect, that’s when I start procrastinating. Procrastination isn’t laziness, it’s fear of starting on something because it’s too overwhelming or because we have really high expectations and are afraid to attempt and end up failing. I have to remember to be kind to myself and start it by breaking it up into small steps.  Shari Salas

I set in my mind the idea that this is new and I can learn it as long as I put in the time.  Trent Grimes


I say to myself, “I’m so glad that I finished that.” This is both a sigh of relief and accomplishment.  Without my beginnings, that first drive to start, I would never get to the end and get that satisfaction of completing. That feeling of unaccomplishment that could be involuntarily obtained by not finishing, leaves streaks and dents of demotivation that drags you down and decreases your shine. That’s why, when completing a task, that sigh of relief mixed with a bursting feeling of accomplishment, is always worth it.  Bryan Villalobos-Benitez

This feels like finishing a race when I put in all my effort. At the end I tell myself that “It’s over! Woohoo!” Agustine Benitez

After completing a project, I pat myself on the back, take a little break, and move on to the next project.  Antonio Medina

Its over, take another breath, it’s time to decompress.  Esteban Lopez

The first thing that I say to myself is “I did it”. A simple three words to express all of the stresses, the pain, the endless nights of studying, that I went through in order to reach my goal.  Jacob Ramirez

The moment I know I am done with the project I like to take a step back and reflect on the new person I have become. With each project there are always challenges that arise that force you to change or add something to your character.  Jaime Lopez

I always let out a sigh of relief. I also try and make it a habit to think about the journey i just did. Being able to reflect on the challenges that just occured helps me take it onto another project.  Javier Rodriguez

I am somewhat of a perfectionist so I have a bad tendency to constantly tinker to try and improve my projects. Yet, when I find myself at a standstill and no work can be done I like to think back and say “welp…that wasn’t as bad as I thought…let’s do it again!”  Laz Garza

I’m really proud of myself -it was hard work but I managed to get through it!  Shari Salas

When I’m finished with whatever I am working on I usually give a sigh of relief, “Phew, okay now what?”  Once I’m done with something I realize there is always something else to do. The end is just the beginning of something else.  Trent Grimes