The Carlmont High School graduate is now studying at the Haas School of Business.
Tristan Sheldon arrived at Cañada College in 2009 as a very shy Carlmont High School graduate. When he earned his Cañada diploma in May of 2012 with a degree in business administration he had grown into a confident leader, ready to face his newest challenge – studying at Cal’s prestigious Hass School of Business.
“Cañada changed my life,” Sheldon said. “It was the best choice I have made so far in my life. Cañada’s motto ‘From Here You Can Go Anywhere’ is such a true statement. I have had friends and classmates at Cañada that have received letters of acceptance from so many top universities, not just in California, but from around the country.”
While Cañada provided Sheldon with support, the journey wasn’t easy. When he graduated from Carlmont in 2008 he had a 2.6 high school GPA, no extracurricular activities, and a mediocre SAT score. He decided to take some time off from academics and worked full time at Electronic Arts in Redwood Shores as a game tester.
“After about four months in that job I realized that if I didn’t get a college degree this is the job that I would be working in the rest of my life,” he said. “I started looking at community colleges around the area. My mom actually graduated from CañadaCañada so I enrolled.”
Sheldon walked onto campus an incredibly shy person who avoided interaction with fellow students and professors as much as possible. “I used to cringe or pretend that I was going to the bathroom when the professor initiated an icebreaker at the beginning of the semester.”
But then Sheldon found the Associated Students of Cañada College and Phi Theta Kappa, the school’s honor society. He met people and began to develop leadership skills. “I am now a much more open person and enjoy meeting new people. This skill has proven invaluable at Cal, especially at Haas, because business is a lot about effective communication.”
He fondly remembers working with friends in student government to organize a Spirit Thursday event at Cañada where snow was dumped in the main quad. “The massive snowball fight that soon ensued was so enjoyable, especially when I saw some faculty participating. It also marks the only day at Cañada that I was actually late to class.”
Sheldon said traveling to Nashville, Tennessee for the annual PTK International Convention forced him to face his fear of being in front of crowds. “Our chapter won the fourth most distinguished chapter out of 1,300 chapters so we had to accept our award in front of the entire convention. Walking up to collect the award with my co-president Karina Gonzalez De Graaf was one of the most nerve-raking moments of my entire life. Karina wanted to start skipping and taking the long way around the auditorium and I just wanted to get up to the stage and back to my seat as quickly as possible.”
Sheldon earned the Student Leadership Award at Cañada’s Commencement Ceremony for his contributions to ASCC and PTK.
Sheldon also rose to the academic challenges he faced at Cañada. “Economics 100, 102 and 230 helped prepare me for the similar level of work I have been receiving here at Haas.”
He also developed strong relationships with two faculty mentors, Paul Roscelli, Professor of Economics, and Leonor Cabrera, Professor of Accounting. Both agreed that, initially, given Sheldon’s approach to academics, it would be difficult for him to achieve his goal of studying at Haas.
“He was not used to looking for answers in a scholarly manner,” Roscelli said. “I have to admit that my first reaction, one shared by Professor Cabrera, was that his chances of being accepted to Haas, given the way he did his work, were slim and none. To my surprise, he evolved over time into a very astute scholar, especially as it relates to numbers and finance.”
Roscelli said Sheldon emerged as a campus leader, willing to give up his time for the college community and his honor society. “He became extremely involved on our campus and his impact continues to echo throughout Cañada.”
Sheldon said Cañada has an assortment of many outstanding professors but that Roscelli and Cabrera were his two favorites. “Their courses in economics and accounting have helped tremendously at Cal. They provided an exceptional foundation for which I was able to grow academically. Professor Roscelli was instrumental in guiding our Phi Theta Kappa chapter and Professor Cabrera helped me solidify my choice to purse a business administration degree at Cal.”
Sheldon said he’s grateful for the education he received at Cañada because his experience at Cal has been overwhelming. “It’s like trying to sightsee while traveling 500 mph down a freeway in a rocket car,” he said. While I would like to look around at the scenery, I have to stay focused on what’s in front of me so that I don’t crash. At Cal, everything around me has been moving so fast; deadlines for assignments, internship season, and in general, Cal life.”
Sheldon said studying at Cal wouldn’t be possible without the second chance he received at Cañada. “It was a chance for me to discover who I really was as a person and experience a different perspective on life. When I graduated in 2012 I was both happy but also sad. I was happy that I was moving on to a top business school but I was sad that I was leaving behind some many treasured connections that I developed with faculty and peers.”