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Rita Rafael

​Communications Major Found Her Niche at SCC

Rita Rafael was making what she refers to as the “nerve-wracking” transition from high school to college during her first semester at Santiago Canyon College (SCC) in 2013. As a first-generation college student, she didn’t know what to expect----until she stepped into Tara Kubicka-Miller’s public speaking class. Professor Kubicka-Miller suggested that Rafael consider joining the SCC speech and debate team, and her future was off and running.

Image of Rita Rafael“It was so comforting to have her reach out to me and say that I had potential,” said Rafael. “As a member of the speech and debate team, I ventured out and did something I had never done before and participated in my first tournament, where I took first place!”

From then on, Rafael knew that forensics would be her pathway in college, an interest that she could explore and expand, cultivate social experiences, and build a promising career. She jumped into the team and became secretary and then vice president.

Upon graduation at SCC, Rafael transferred to Chapman University as a communications major, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2017. She observed some parallels between SCC and Chapman, which is ranked #5 in Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report.

“Both SCC and Chapman have a lot of resources for students. I found that people were always ready to point me in the right direction, whether it was professors, librarians, or people who worked in the administrative office,” said Rafael.

Since graduation, she’s come full circle and is back every Friday as a coach of the SCC forensics team, an experience that has inspired her to explore full-time work in the field of education, perhaps as a forensics coach or in a public relations capacity. In April, Rafael helped coach the team to bring home eight individual awards plus the third place overall win from the “Cool Off” forensics tournament.