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Study Hours: No longer fast or furious

Mike Madriaga

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Back in the 1990s, when I was pursuing my business management degree, I had already opened my second business. It was a time where I would attend Mesa College, sit in class, and my cell would blow up from incoming phone orders via my old website, (circa 1999-2005). I owned a mail-order company and was selling car-parts that I would manufacture. At the time, fiberglass body-panels were a must-have for the scene during the pre-production stages of the “Fast & the Furious,” so I capitalized on the profitable trend. I combined what I had learned in my business classes at Mesa College, and my composites and plastics classes in the Regional Occupational Program, and formulated a successful plan. Unlike my red-lining tachometer, my business cruised in the black for about five years.

I was the epitome of the derogatory term “ricer,” but with good reason. Almost every cosmetic fiberglass part on my 1988 Honda CRX was available for purchase on our website, and every company decal visible was adhered per contractual agreement for the sponsorships provided. It wasn’t all about the business; our Team Prototype garage in Chula Vista was a spot where we bumped progressive trance and break-danced while preparing for the next car-show, race, or photoshoot. In the midst of our all-night excursions, that same CRX was brought to the spotlight in seven magazines worldwide, four which were cover-stories.

Although I knew I had to finish college like my mother, father, and my grandparents before them, I was distracted by the hazard lights, and got caught up in the fast lane. I would spend a lot of time shipping the orders on my online shopping carts, and stocking my virtual shelves, rather than learn about the theories of “supply and demand.”

The money and the lifestyle were great … until 2005.

Like my overzealous chrome muffler, my life-plan as you knew it, backfired. Most of the parts that I manufactured for over five years, were no longer desirable. Our over-the-top styling cues, were becoming dated, as our roof-scoop on the Mitsubishi Eclipse, that Paul Walker’s character drove.

I ate some humble pie, closed shop, and fell in love. The last flickers of that neon light from that time in my life were bittersweet. During a Hot Import Nights Car-Show at Qualcomm Stadium in 2006, I met my future wife and the mother of our two beautiful children.

Now the question remains, do I regret not finishing my classes at Mesa College, to hopefully transfer to San Diego State University, for my Bachelor of Arts degree in business management? No I do not. If I would’ve lagged on any ‘power-shifting’ decisions, my destiny would have changed. Do I regret building fast and gawdy looking cars? That also is a negative; that checkered past of mine has added to my portfolio, which land me freelance jobs in my new field of work, multi-media journalism.

As I enrolled again this year, my counselor dusted off my transcript, and said I have enough units to transfer to SDSU the next spring. I have returned to school with a different agenda; I am pursuing an Associate of Arts degree in digital journalism here at San Diego City College, then transferring to SDSU for a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with an emphasis in public relations.

How do I feel about college now? I love it. And more importantly, respect the academia. The 60-plus units that I accumulated in the 1990s still hold value after 16 years. Although my career choice has down-shifted, most of the units are still transferrable to a university.

I learned many lessons in Mesa College that helped my business flourish during those five years, and because of the media that I garnished from that same business, I developed fruitful relationships with the journalists and TV producers that covered my shop’s projects. Witnessing the backend of media production peaked my newfound interest into the world of journalism.

Completed college credits are one of those timeless investments that will hold value for the remainder of your lifetime. I can only think of a handful of things that are comparable. If the rewards of now attending community college, are as beneficial as they were before; I can only fathom the potential residuals to the highest, after graduating with an associate’s and bachelor’s degree.

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Study Hours: No longer fast or furious