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Nicolas Fimbres sits smiling at Pima West Campus

Calculating His Future

For Nicolas Fimbres, Pima provided just the right gateway into higher education and a rich, motivating college experience

By Annie T Denogean, External Relations

For some college students, math is a nightmare to endure. For Nicolas Fimbres, it is a joy to explore, a way to relax – and even “a therapeutic tool.” As Nicolas graduates this May with an associate degree in liberal arts from Pima Community College, he dreams of making mathematics his profession.

“My long-term goal is to become a mathematics professor at the college level,” Nicolas said.

Nicolas chose to attend Pima because it offers classes in partnership with the Santa Cruz Center in Nogales, Ariz., which allowed him to ease into the college experience without having to move away from his family home there. He wanted to feel prepared and ready for the challenges of university life.

“I didn’t feel quite ready to take the full plunge,” he said.

Nicholas Fimbres profile image
Nicholas Fimbres
Photo By Josh Lamoreaux, External Relations

Throughout his time at Pima, Nicolas encountered individuals who played a significant role in his academic journey. One of the first was Mike Schuetze, an adjunct instructor for a Student Success class (most of which are free to students). Schuetze introduced Nicolas to the college system and made him feel comfortable in the learning environment. Schuetze’s guidance and advice on university transfers helped Nicolas understand how community colleges and four-year schools work as a whole.

“He gave me a good sense of what to expect of a college education,” Nicolas said.

Nicolas also mentioned three other people who had a profound impact on his experience at Pima.

Lourdes Rivera, advanced program coordinator at the Santa Cruz Center, served as his advisor and looked out for him, recommending different opportunities and scholarships, and even pushing him to apply for the role of commencement speaker. “She pushed me to go out of my comfort zone.”

Alma Ruiz, program assistant at the Santa Cruz Center, helped Nicolas navigate the college's processes and provided him with valuable information about various resources. “She explained how things worked.”

She also showed by example how to master time management. One of the biggest challenges Nicolas faced at Pima was the stress he faced managing all his obligations. However, he gradually overcame this obstacle by observing how Ruiz organized her schedule by setting up meetings. He applied the same approach. By scheduling specific times for tasks and prioritizing his responsibilities, Nicolas learned the importance of time management and it made him more productive.

"I could not be here today without the help of my various professors at Pima and the wonderful staff that has always helped me throughout my journey." ~ Nicolas Fimbres

Lastly, math instructor Gina Tatil not only taught him the subject but also helped Nicolas to gain teaching experience by encouraging him to tutor his classmates. Her interactive methods, study guides and problem-solving exercises made the learning process enjoyable and engaging for Nicolas. “She’s really a fabulous teacher.”

Nicolas credited these individuals for helping him flourish at Pima. They provided the guidance, support and valuable advice that allowed him to excel academically.

“I could not be here today without the help of my various professors at Pima and the wonderful staff that has always helped me throughout my journey,” Nicolas said, adding that his family also supported him with words of encouragement and by always being willing to drive him to the center for classes.

With his time at Pima coming to an end, Nicolas is looking forward to his next adventure at the University of Arizona, where he plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematics. He finds the subject fascinating because every math problem is like solving a puzzle.

“It always amazes me when I see a problem and how things connect, and to me that is almost therapeutic. It’s a de-stressor,” Nicolas said. “There’s always a solution.”

He hopes to share that passion for math with future generation of students. It is a calling for him.

“It’s my belief that people with knowledge should use it to teach those around them,” Nicolas said.

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