Claudia Carmen Lankford
Hello everyone. Here is a bit about me.
I grew up in Communist Romania where “Big Brother” in the form of Communist informants were always watching you, even in your apartment. Standing in long lines for even the most basic food essentials like bread and chicken wings was a way of life. People I relate the details of my early life to find it incomprehensible that we could live that way. I went from high school directly to a factory to work, with no chance for college and advancement. The whole family lived in a small apartment, we all worked, and life was very basic. Fortunately I was able to escape the remnants of Communism and start a new life in America.
Shortly after I immigrated (by myself) to the United States in 1990, I began my college education. I was 20 at the time, and it was a tough start. I arrived in the US with two dollars to my name, all by myself and had to find employment, learn English and work towards my US citizenship. While I was learning English, my first job was as a clerk at the United Methodist Church. I then was able to enroll at Lansing City College in Michigan while I worked three jobs and tried to accelerate my English proficiency. After two years at Lansing City College, it became obvious that I would have to change my priorities and move to a job track where I could obtain other major goals. I quit school when I started working full-time for United Airlines.
While United Airlines gave me a job with the ability to live on the West Coast, retirement, health and travel benefits, it continued to be obvious that to be the master of my destiny I need a college degree, and ultimately a MA, so I can better create my life path, rather than have it created for me. Flying weekends, going to school full time during the week and managing to spend some time with family is not easy and it takes discipline learning new ways to multitask, but it can be done.
In 2003 I re-started college an attended Long Beach City College followed by a transfer to California State University in Long Beach (CSULB) where I graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business. As a CSULB student, I have been involved with the International Business Association Program (IBA), promoting entrepreneurship, better understanding amongst the world’s cultures, networking, and ways of fueling our economic future. I have had the opportunity to be the recipient of a few scholarships including the Port of Long Beach Scholarship in the fall of 2005. I also had the honor to be on the President’s list as well as the Dean’s list as a result of my hard work and good GPA score.
In 2008, I have been furloughed with United and decided to return to school and pursue my Masters Degree in Public Policy and Administration. My vision, dream and mission in life has always been to work with the public and for the public helping fellow citizens. Thus, I look forward in the near future to land a career working for the government (public sector). While pursuing a career in public service, I am also looking forward to writing my thesis during the Fall 2010 Semester and implementing a new policy for the Aviation Industry, ensuring a safer traveling experience for the American public.
In the past, I volunteered and donated clothes and other amenities to the battered womens’ shelter in Redondo Beach, Ca. Also, previously I was able to make monetary donations to organizations including those who assist with refugees, CARE for Haiti Organization and the Peace Corps. In 1995 I volunteered at a fund raising event in Chicago to raise money for families that have lost loved ones to traffic accidents killed by drunk drivers. I donated adult and kids clothes for victims of hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005. Also, I enjoy volunteering at my daughter’s school, Weaver Elementary in Los Alamitos California helping teachers and students through their busy school’s curriculum. Volunteering to clean the loco beach with Save Our Beach Organization has been a fun and awarding experience as well. In the summer of 2009, I volunteered to become a member of CERT – Community Emergency Response Team, where I trained/certified to search, rescue and triage victims in my community area during a major disaster.
I plan to use the skills and knowledge from work, education, volunteering experience, to obtain employment in the public service as well as becoming a mentor to other students at California State University Long Beach. This scholarship award will be a tremendous financial help for me as a single unemployed mother and it will make it easier for me to concentrate on writing my thesis than stressing to pay the bills. Also, I will be able to inspire others and spread the word that when things get tough, there could be help out there that many students may not be aware of.