Christopher Ponce originally aimed to finish his time in the Marine Corps, and then pursue a career in the Los Angeles police.
That all changed when he witnessed an accident.
“I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I did five years, I married [my wife] a year in the Marines, we went together to Virginia,” Ponce said.
They then moved to California for Ponce’s training -- where he came across a motorcycle accident.
“When I saw the motorcycle accident, I felt bad, I couldn’t help him,” he said. “That was the first time in my life where I just couldn’t help someone.”
So, he prepared, in case something like this happened again.
“From then, it put it in my mind that I should take an EMT course … just so I could have general information on how to help people out,” Ponce said.
He said that it became much more than a one-off EMT course.
“I felt like I found my purpose,” Ponce said.
“He came to Highline to follow a path that he was drawn to because of [that] incident in his life,” said Kendall Evans, veteran’s services program specialist.
“My goal was military and then LAPD, and then with that incident… I went down that route,” Ponce said.
Last spring, Ponce was working as an EMT, and volunteering as an EMT a local fire department.
“That’s when I decided I wanted to do this whole pre-med thing, and become a doctor,” he said.
He will be graduating soon with an associate of arts degree in biology.
But earning his degree isn’t the only experience Ponce has had on campus.
Through the Veterans Club and Veterans Services, he felt whole, he said.
“I just felt something missing, and being around other veterans, that filled that void,” he said.
Ponce is now president of the Veterans Club, and he has been working at Veterans Services.
“He works with me in the Veterans Services office and is one of the most dependable people I know,” Evans said. “He has taken the Veterans Club to new heights as the president, and has done all of this while being a family man, raising two beautiful children.”
“With veterans, we have a certain way of communicating … being around each other really helped,” Ponce said.
The next step is attending the University of Washington-Seattle in the fall.
“I'm going to also take a break from the EMT stuff and do some research,” he said. “I want to volunteer to teach kids to play chess.”
He’s also working on not stretching himself too thin, and paying lots of attention to his two daughters and his wife, Ponce said.
“The biggest thing now is prioritizing your focus not on what you think looks good, but spending time with people,” he said. “Enjoying the moment, is the biggest thing I learned.”
And while he’ll be leaving Highline, his impact on the people around him on-campus will not.
“It has been my extreme honor and privilege to get to know this young man and his family while he steps up to what he feels has called him to do with his life,” Evans said. “I can only hope that he hurries his way through medical school, because he would be the doctor that may one day save my life.”