“I had a great foundation from my experience at FRCC. And it definitely prepared me for the academics at CU and CSU.”
Born and raised in the Fort Collins area, Reece grew up loving to learn and be outside. His grandmother was a big influence in his life. “She helped me learn to ski and hike, taught me about flowers and weather patterns and how to track animals.”
He did well with math and science in school—but was also diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. “I was too rambunctious on the playground,” he remembers. “In class, I couldn’t sit still for more than five minutes. My teachers noticed it right away.”
He feels like that was a setback. “I got labeled as the wild guy, the trouble maker. But I learned as much on the playground as I did in classes sometimes.”
Now in his twenties, Reece continues to live a very active outdoor lifestyle—hiking, backpacking, rafting, rock climbing and—like a true Colorado native—skiing. “I still don’t like sitting down for lectures. Going into engineering, I enjoy being in labs where I’m learning actual hands-on skills.”
Time to Travel
After high school, he got the chance to study abroad at a high school in Brazil through a Rotary International exchange. He spent the next school year living with host families, learning Portuguese and immersing himself in a different culture. He took this time to mature and figure out his next step in life.
“When I got back to the US, I decided to go to FRCC for the price—and it was close to home.” He lived with his parents while in school, and explored different types of classes.
College: Getting Started
He started out taking the courses he knew he would have to take eventually at a university. “Taking those general education classes allowed me to get them done in the safest and most growth-friendly environment,” he says.
He particularly enjoyed the smaller classes at FRCC. “I loved the fact that classes were a max of 25 people. I got more one-on-one time with my teachers. Community college professors were cool because each had their own life—I could ask them about things beyond just the course subject matter. It made them more approachable.”
One of his favorite classes was an environmental economics class with just 10 people in it. “We were able to talk before and after class—you could see our professor’s passion for the subject matter.”
A Strong Sense of Community
Reece also loved being involved outside the classroom. “The campus had more of a tight-knit community with clubs and activities. It was a small enough place to actually see people around.” He got involved with the Alpha Omega campus ministry and became vice president of the student body.
“I absolutely loved the people on campus,” he raves. “The age range was different—it was broad. People came from all different backgrounds, from high school students to older married students with families. They didn’t have to be there—it was their choice.”
Failing—and Getting Help
Reece got off to a bumpy start—he failed two higher-level math classes and was pretty disappointed in himself. “I failed often and fast,” he laughs now. But he learned a lot from the experience.
“There was a lot of tutoring available at the academic support center,” he recalls. “I went there quite often.” He took both classes again and passed. “It took a lot of time and effort, but it really helped solidify the things I needed to learn.”
He says this initial struggle also helped him learn how to succeed in a college environment. “I needed that so I could really learn and get my butt into gear—learn how to study, take notes better, approach my professors’ office hours.”