News - 04/24/2013

Slow and Steady Wins the Race for MiraCosta College Student

Blake Belnap

If you look up the word `determined’ in the dictionary, don’t be surprised to see a picture of Blake Belnap.

Enrolled in special education classes from elementary through high school because of a learning disability that stunted his math and reading skills, Belnap enrolled at MiraCosta College determined to earn an associate in arts degree.

On May 17, some 10 years after he first began attending classes here, Belnap will graduate with an associate of arts degree in general studies. 

“It was challenging,” he said. “It took a long time. But I got there.” 

Said Belnap’s father, David: “Blake is a real success story. He’s no longer on disability and he’s almost completely independent of any help from us now.”

The Belnaps credit Mark Bockstahler, a former counselor with the Disabled Students Program and Services Department, with much of Belnap’s success.

“He got me in the right direction,” said Belnap, 31.

“He helped him map out his schedule,” the elder Belnap said of Bockstahler. “He was a real angel in helping him.”

One reason for his lengthy stay at MiraCosta College was that Belnap has been working regularly at Legoland in Carlsbad for five years. He secured the position after earning an Achievement in Landscape Assistant certificate from the school.

Belnap found the job after he went on a field trip to the amusement park. “One thing led to another. I’ve been here for five years now.”

Belnap said he had no special interest in landscaping until he arrived at MiraCosta College. “I took a class in plant science without really thinking much about it, but I found the subject so interesting, so fascinating, that I just continued on with it,” he said.

Like many students, Belnap took several remedial math and English courses when he first arrived at MiraCosta College. The first time he took an algebra class, he got a D. So he took the course again and aced it. “It got him to thinking that he could do something,” David Belnap said.

Belnap, who lives with his family in Rancho Santa Fe, said he is grateful to MiraCosta College for its support over the years. 

“They’ve helped me get to where I wanted to go. They definitely help people follow their dreams.” 

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