Rafael Otero ’25: Helping fellow CMC students score their goals

Rafael Otero ’25.

Photo by Anibal Ortiz 

If you’re a CMC student, Rafael Otero ’25 wants to talk with you about time management, de-stressing techniques, and student-athlete balance.

A Romero Student Success Coach, majoring in Philosophy and Public Affairs (PPA) with a sequence in Data Science, Otero hails from Seattle, Wash. A peer mentor group, Romero Student Success Coaches develop well-being, academic, life skills and strategies with students to help them achieve their goals at CMC.

As a member of the CMS soccer team, Otero was named to the SCIAC All-Academic team in 2022, and as “offensive player of the week” in September for scoring three critical goals in a road win and tie against two of the top teams in the Northwest Conference.

When he’s not on the soccer field, Otero can be found studying in Poppa and skateboarding to his classes.

Otero took time to answer some questions about CMC, and how, as a Success Coach, he engenders a feeling of belonging in his fellow CMCers.

What’s your favorite part about being a member of the CMC community?

To me, one of the best parts about the CMC community is how close-knit it is, inside and outside of the classroom. Given how small each graduating class is, and how close all students live to each other, you quickly get to know a large portion of the students on campus. Whether you’re walking to class or eating in the dining hall, it seems like you’ll always see a familiar face. Being so close to my friends and peers has allowed me to spend more time with them and has made it much easier to build strong friendships.

The tight-knit community also makes class more engaging and helps break down some of the barriers to classroom participation. In a small major like mine, I often see the same faces in my classes each semester. Getting to know my classmates personally throughout the year makes participating in class much more comfortable, and has encouraged me to take risks in class that I otherwise wouldn’t have taken.

Why did you want to become a Success Coach? And what do you get out of being one?

I’ve always enjoyed helping my friends edit papers and plan for assignments, but the Success Coaches gave me an opportunity to offer this help to the entire CMC community. I knew all too well the difficulties of transitioning from high school to college and luckily had older teammates to help guide me through stressful times. To me, becoming a Success Coach was the perfect way to offer the same type of support I received as a freshman to all members of the CMC community. I know how important the help I’ve gotten from my peers has been to me, and as a Success Coach, I wanted to repay that favor to the student body.

For me, the most fulfilling part of being a Success Coach comes when I know I made a student’s stressful situation a little bit easier. College is hard! Knowing my advice can have a real positive impact on a fellow student’s academic experience is a great feeling, and that feeling is by far my favorite thing about my position. Another great part of my role has been getting to meet so many new people in the CMC community, whether they be students I’ve met with or other Success Coaches. These connections allowed me to hear perspectives on campus that I otherwise would have never been exposed to, and also make some great new friends.

What makes you feel like you “belong” and how do you engender that in others?

The communities that I’m a part of on campus make me feel like I belong at CMC. On my team, it’s my teammates and coaches who are always there for me during the good or bad, and who have my back no matter what. Having the support system of my team has always made me feel like I’m valued on campus. With the Success Coaches, I always feel welcomed by the students, and feel like my contributions are listened to and respected. It’s a fun and welcoming environment, and is exactly the type of space that helps me feel like I “belong.”

I try to help others feel a sense of belonging by making sure they know that they are at CMC for a reason. Each and every student at CMC is intelligent and capable, and was a standout member of their community in some regard. I think it’s important to remind students of their strengths. At CMC it can often feel like you’re the only person who doesn’t have their internship, assignment, or extracurriculars together. I seek to make sure students know that this isn’t reality, and have them reflect on their accomplishments that led them to CMC in the first place. I’ve found that taking a step back and remembering why we’re at CMC, and who has supported us to get here, has often helped myself and fellow students feel a sense of belonging while at school. As a Success Coach, I try to help students maintain this perspective, especially in difficult times.

Learn more about the Romero Success Coaches and how to make an appointment.

Anne Bergman
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