If you need to see Christian Marez anytime soon, you should make an appointment well in advance.
In addition to his studies at Tyler Junior College, Marez is also the incoming TJC Student Senate president and an Apache Chief student orientation leader, plus he holds down two part-time jobs and volunteers twice a month for Meals on Wheels.
“It’s a lot, I know. I have my schedule loaded in a calendar on my phone, so I have alerts to keep me on top of it,” he said. “Honestly, I never thought I’d be planning out each day like this. When I first came to TJC, I thought I would be majoring in dental hygiene and that’s it. Then all of these other activities kind of snowballed.”
He said it all started this time last year when he was an incoming freshman attending New Student Orientation.
“I was impressed with how the Apache Chiefs were really welcoming and made TJC feel like a university and not a junior college,” said Marez, a sophomore from Longview.
A self-described introvert, he said he originally had no intention of getting involved on campus or joining student organizations.
“It wasn’t until I met (chiefs) Patrick Smallwood and a couple of others -- Chris Williams and Ebony Griffin -- that I really thought seriously about it,” he said. “They kept bringing it up and kind of pushed me. So, I dipped my toe in and the next thing I knew, I had plunged in. I’m glad I did because it’s a great experience.”
Marez and his fellow chiefs recently wrapped two months of summer orientation duties and are switching gears in preparation for TJC’s fall semester, which starts Monday, Aug. 27.
“I would say the biggest thing we’ve learned as a team is our purpose as leaders,” he said. “Our purpose is to serve our new students and to give them the best experience possible, from their first day at orientation throughout their time with us at TJC.”
Even with all of the busyness of campus activities, Marez is still fully focused on his primary purpose for being at TJC, which is to apply to the TJC dental hygiene program and ultimately have a career in the dental field.
“Breath, smile and teeth whiteness are among the first things people notice about other people; and they can really make people very insecure. As a kid, I had a big gap in my front teeth, and I got braces my senior year to get it fixed,” he said. “It was a big help, and now I want to help other people to be happy about their smile.”
His initial plan to attend SFA proved too costly.
“I could not afford it, so I chose TJC because of the price,” he said. “At SFA, my first year would’ve cost close to $30,000, whereas at TJC I paid $4,000.”
TJC’s Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene was also a factor.
“After TJC, I have a few scenarios,” he said. “One would be to go straight into work at a dental practice or do service work, traveling around the country and serving those who need dental care.”
Those are Plans A and B.
“I guess Plan C is a little wilder,” he said. “After my bachelor’s degree, I would either join the Navy or Air Force and maybe join their practice, which would help me to travel around a bit, and then maybe go back to school, major in biology or biochemistry and become a dentist.”
That’s quite a list of plans, but Marez said he will be ready for whatever life holds.
“TJC has given me that foundation,” he said.
For more on TJC programs, or to register, go to www.tjc.edu.