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A Pandemic Impacted Journey Yields a Worthy Self Discovery for DHS Alumnus

November 29, 2022

It may be many years before the final analysis is written on how the global pandemic caused by the emergence of COVID-19 has impacted our society, psyche, and history. What we do know is that it had an effect in virtually every community. For this profile, we will follow the journey of Dublin High School Class of 2019 graduate Andy Rabago. Prior to his graduation, he matriculated through Dougherty Elementary and Fallon Middle School. As the oldest of three boys, Mr. Rabago accepted and embraced the mantle of role model to his younger siblings.

Prior to even stepping foot onto the campus of DHS, his post high school plans were far from solidified. In fact, pursuing higher education was clearly not on his radar. There were numerous reasons for his ambivalence: Why not simply move forward and work in the trades sector? Would the cost of college tuition be prohibitive? Could he compete and thrive in a university environment? As is often the case, a member of the school community listened to his concerns and opened his mind to the possibilities. In Andy’s case, it was AVID Coordinator, Streisand Hall.

Andy Rabago, Dublin High School Class of 2019 graduate and Senior at California State University Monterey Bay. Photo by: Micheal Utsumi

Before we revisit this pivotal moment at Fallon Middle School, we will fast forward to the present. After committing to enrollment at California State University Monterey Bay, Mr. Rabago had to accomplish what a countless number of his peers needed to conquer – navigating remote learning. While his path to an undergraduate degree would not be linear, he ended up learning quite a bit about himself. Perhaps the most important quality was discovering that he was worthy of his place in higher education. He had the ability to lead and to flourish. And he possessed the confidence to articulate his journey by participating in the first-ever TEDx experience produced at the CSUMB campus. During the recent Thanksgiving break, we had the opportunity to sit down with Andy Rabago and he willingly shared some of his apprehensions and aspirations as he prepares to graduate almost a year ahead of schedule. The title of your talk “From Lonely to Worthy” can definitely capture one’s attention. That said, you navigated what countless high school graduates experienced as they commenced their college careers. Returning home for remote learning may have contributed to your feelings of not being worthy. Take a moment to describe the strategies that you utilized to overcome these feelings and the support that your family offered. 

Andy Rabago: “Coming home during a period of my life where I thought I’d be exploring a new environment was off-putting and having to still be connected to that environment from a distance was strange. Within the first few days of being home, I had converted our family den, which at the time was my mom’s office space, into a hub where I could study and have a space to breathe. While most of my setup was technology, I kept a calendar next to me as I feared that procrastination could easily be a factor with me not attending classes in the same fashion. This was one of the best practices of time-management I could have, as I was able to keep track of assignments and keep track of any important items I needed to finish. When I started working as a Graphic Designer virtually, it served as a progress board to keep me on track with projects I needed to finish and upload to their social media platforms. My family was understanding of my situation as they were working from home as well, my brothers attending school virtually and my mom’s business operating across from my desk. Continuing this form of self-management, I was able to build back my confidence I had lost when I initially was home. It also helped me when I would eventually come back to school in Fall 2021.”

Andy Rabago speaking at TEDx CSU Monterey Bay. Photo proivded by Andy Rabago You identify a crucial turning point during your time in Dublin with an introduction to the AVID program through Ms. Streisand Hall. In addition to learning about Cornell notes and taking some campus tours, help our readers to understand how AVID modified your attitude about the potential for continuing in college and the added confidence that it provided to you. 

Rabago: “Nearing the end of 7th grade, I began to question why college was important, and wondered why parents wanted me to go so badly. After speaking to a counselor, I learned about a program that was starting in the following year called AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), designed to help students understand every aspect of college, from the application process to essential study practices. Initially, I was skeptical of the program, as I believed that it would only help us with current classwork to achieve higher grades. When I came informational meeting, it was there that I met Ms. Hall, one of the individuals that would change my mind on college as she explained the wide variety of opportunities I could never imagine having for college. Practicing for the SAT/ACT exams, learning how to take efficient notes to help my studies, and my favorite, college campus tours, these were opportunities that made me think twice about my perspective on college. This program made me realize that college was more than just a higher learning opportunity, but also a self-growth opportunity that would allow me to find out who I truly was.” One of the highlights of your DHS career was your participation in the Video Production program under the guidance of Michael D’Ambrosio. Please explain how this experience partially influenced your decision to attend CSUMB and to make this a career choice. 

Rabago: “High School was a period where I was still trying to figure out what type of career I wanted to pursue, specifically study now that AVID program had changed my mind on college. It wasn’t until I heard about Dublin High’s video production program, which would air weekly video bulletins across the campus. I was someone who always loved being creative behind and in front of the camera and seeing an opportunity like the Video Production class made me think that producing content would be something I’d like to pursue as a career. I began learning Adobe Premiere, the editing program the class would use to create the video bulletins, and that allowed me to get into the level 2 class of Video Production. Initially, I felt nervous coming into the program, as I saw there were other students that had more experience than me. But it wasn’t until I met Michael D’Ambrosio, the head of the program, who helped me understand that creating content isn’t to compete with the quality or look of the content, rather what the story is telling. I’d take on this mentality with me, creating numerous parodies of old sitcoms and events from current pop culture to entertain students around campus, while also informing them of what was going on throughout the week. I’d also produce and act in my first short film, which would be selected as a feature film in the 2018 Dublin High Film Festival. Seeing my film on the big screen made me feel excited for what was coming in the future and I was more than confident that studying film would be my path in college. In my senior year, I had already been accepted to CSU Monterey Bay, but I was still unsure if the school was right for me. It wasn’t until I saw D’Ambrosio’s flag of CSUMB alongside the other college flags in his classroom. That gave me the absolute confidence to put down my enrollment fee and begin my journey into studying Cinematic Arts and Technology at CSUMB.” You now hold the distinction of presenting in the first-ever TEDx program at Monterey Bay. Make our readers more familiar about the process of getting a talk approved and some of the conditions/limitations that are placed upon speakers.

Rabago: “When I first heard about CSU Monterey Bay offering an opportunity to speak at TEDx, memories of watching TED talks in my class flooded back into my mind. I knew that this conference could give me the opportunity to reach out to those second-guessing their position in life, wherever they are. The process of writing speech was initially a challenge, as I contemplated on how I would approach the topic of feeling worthy in a college environment. I then realized that I would tell everything that had happened since that initial meeting with Ms. Hall back in the 7th grade. After submitting my speech, I met with the organizers of the TEDx talk, Dan Burfeind and Daisy Barrett. The first matter they wanted to address was what the speech would sound like, and thanks to the video production program and working with the college’s radio program, I had practiced how to control and project my voice. I gained a sense of excitement when they expressed their joy in my speech delivery, and we then began the process of working to edit down my speech. From the beginning of September 2022 near the last week of October 2022, myself and seven other student speakers would meet with Dan and Daisy three times a week, working out any kinks in both our speech and our delivery. These meetings allowed us to get a critical and efficient review of our speeches to make our deliveries sound more professional. When the day of the event arrived, I felt more than ready to get onto the stage and share with the audience and viewers at home my story and express how going to college made a significant change in my life.”

CSU Monterey Bay campus. Photo by: Andy Rabago Thanks to your diligence, you will be graduating early with a B.A. in Cinematic Arts & Technology in December. Thereafter, you will have a rather unique opportunity to experience the Disney College Program in Orlando, FL. Tell us what you know about the program and what are your expectations?”

Rabago: “Because the pandemic removed the ability to attend classes in person, scheduling classes became easier and I chose to increase the number classes I had with this extra time. Speaking with my academic advisor, I was informed that if I were keeping this pace of units, I would on track to graduating earlier than expected. This motivated me to continue as I pushed to take as many classes as possible, even taking courses over the Summer 2021 break. I now will be graduating in December 2022 with a B.A. in Cinematic Arts and Technology, and I am more than excited to be involved with the Disney College Program for Spring 2023. In addition to working at Walt Disney World, the program will be providing me the opportunity to practice skills that could benefit me when working in the Film and Television industry, such as networking with professionals and proper communication for problem solving. Throughout my time in Cinematic Arts and Technology program at CSU Monterey Bay, I have developed a passion for the television industry, as I desire to be in the action and have adapted to working in a fast-paced environment. With the Disney College Program, I hope to network with professionals as the company is widely known for their range of television production companies such as ABC. I also intend to find opportunities that could help me with furthering my education, as I’d like to continue into graduate school to earn a master’s degree in Television.”

So, the odyssey doesn’t end – it simply continues onto the next phase. We are confident that Andy will continue to write many more chapters that will inspire his peers, siblings, and future graduates of Dublin High School. would like to thank Mr. Rabago for his candor and the belief that the journey from “lonely to worthy” can be filled with inspiration and satisfaction. We encourage you to experience Andy’s TEDx talk here:

Andy Rabago’s TEDx Talk – From Lonely to Worthy: A Perspective of College in Monterey

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