At the Faculty Institute event in early September, prior to the beginning of the academic year, Dany Paragouteva was presented with the Glendale Community College Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, sponsored by the Academic Senate.
The award is given annually to students who have achieved the highest GPA and number of divisionally diverse units within either four or eight consecutive semesters.
Paragouteva completed 71 units with a 4.0 GPA in only five semesters.
Although she said one of her favorite classes was English 125 – Shakespeare, with instructor Stephen Taylor, she chose to be presented her award by Spanish instructor Lourdes Girardi.
Girardi spoke highly of her prized student. “She loves to learn,” said Girardi, who taught Paragouteva in Spanish 101, 102, 103 and 105.
Paragouteva took Spanish 101 because it was a transfer requirement subject, added Girardi, but after a three-day visit to Mexico with her church group to work in an orphanage in Ensenada, she returned with renewed self confidence and a love of the language. She appreciated being able to talk to the children in their own tongue.
“She became very fluent,” said Girardi, and by the time she had progressed to Spanish 103 and 105 “she could discuss politics and economics at an adult level.”
She made another visit to Tijuana, Mexico where she was part of a team that built a house in two days.
Spanish is 21-year-old Paragouteva’s fourth language. “I love languages,” she understated. Born in Bulgaria, she came to the United States nearly six years ago with her native language, some Russian and a little high school English.
While attending Glendale High School she was put into an ESL class, but the following year she had advanced so remarkably that she was placed into regular English classes. After only two years in the country she had become fluent in the language.
As for why Paragouteva chose to stay so long at GCC, she said she “couldn’t make up [her] mind where [she] was going.” She is still changing her mind.
Last semester she was enrolled at Cal State Long Beach but has since transferred to Art Center in Pasadena where she has a class load of 18 units this semester.
“Eighteen units is a lot of work, but it’s good work,” said the illustration major. Although she showed drawing skills as a young child, Paragouteva did not pursue it at GCC. She took graphic design but no drawing classes while here.
However, Paragouteva manages to balance her time to allow for a healthy social life.
She is an active member of the non-denominational church, Hope Christain Fellowship, with which she visited Mexico, and through her participation in the campus Christian Club, Paragouteva made lifelong friends.