Text Only Skip to content
Skip header navigation.
Skip sub-section linksSTLCC Home » Faces of STLCC » Wildwood Campus » Debbie Zamora

Faces of STLCC

Wildwood Campus

STLCC Experience Restores Zamora's Faith in Educational System

Debbie Zamora

Debbie Zamora has not taken a traditional path to college. In fact, she had very little faith in the educational system at all until she started at St. Louis Community College.

“My family moved a lot when I was younger,” Zamora said. "I went to three high schools, four middle schools and I can’t even remember how many elementary schools I went to.”

In the end, she was frustrated and a half a credit shy of obtaining her high school diploma.

“It felt like no one wanted to help me. I would move to a new school and try to transfer credits, and just because the new school didn’t have the exact class as my old school, they would tell me it wouldn’t count toward graduation," she said. "I figured I might as well start working because school was getting me nowhere.”

So she went to work. Zamora said that she’s done it all: restaurants, retail and the service industry. Her employers saw her potential and gave her more and more responsibilities, moving her from the front line to a corporate training position. However, it soon became apparent that colleagues who had comparable responsibilities were classified at a higher level and received a higher salary just because they had a college degree. She knew that obtaining a degree would help her receive the recognition and compensation she deserved.

A single mother, Zamora decided to wait until her daughter was in high school before she pursued her degree. But first she had to complete her high school studies. Nineteen years after she left high school, she finally received her diploma. Zamora took her first college courses in summer 2008 at STLCC-Wildwood.

“I want to redevelop myself and I thought St. Louis Community College would give me an opportunity to develop on a more intimate level," she said. "I wanted to build a new educational resume so that I could move forward.”

After the summer, Zamora took classes at Forest Park, with the intent to earn a certificate in hotel management. Advisers at Forest Park steered her toward an associate degree in general transfer studies instead because it would offer her more options. She has taken classes at Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood.

Zamora has done so well that she was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.

“No one ever recognized me as a good student. When I got the letter (from Phi Theta Kappa), I didn’t think it was real.”

She still gets emotional when she thinks about it. “It was incredible.”

Zamora serves as the Wildwood chapter president, and her efforts helped the chapter attain a Five Star rating, the highest rating possible. She also recently was elected president of Phi Theta Kappa's Missouri region, an incredible honor and testament to her passion for the importance of educational achievement.

She has been recognized with the “Who’s Who Award” two years in a row and also received the Emerging Leadership Award from the Kwame Building Group. She was one of 10 women chosen as leaders at Forest Park during Leadership Month and is on track to graduate as a member of the Honors program.

Zamora intends to transfer to Webster University and study training and development.

“That’s how I learned,” she said. “My managers were always willing to help me develop my skills. So I think training is important. I like doing it; being a coach and mentor to others. I like making an impact on people’s lives.” 

Zamora's advice for people considering college is simple. “Don’t make excuses. Don’t wait. St. Louis Community College has a passion for passion. I’m passionate about what I want to do, and the faculty and staff were here to help me. They listened. STLCC makes things happen.”

By: Debbie Ward