May 27, 2021

“Keep Moving Forward”

How Former DSPS Student Nikolai Kestler Persevered at Mesa

By Office of Communications

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In reminiscing on his time as a student at Mesa College, new graduate Nikolai Kestler recalls the words of Dr. Martin Luther King as fuel for his determination.


“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward,” he quotes.


For Kestler, King’s words uplift the struggles he, and many other students experience when furthering their education. While attending college and earning an associate degree are challenging feats during a regular school year, this year required students’ unprecedented resilience and adjustment per the changing conditions of a global pandemic.


Kestler is no stranger to rolling with the punches though. As a former Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) student, he has learned the importance of advocating for himself to create the educational environment most conducive to his success. While the compounding effects of a pandemic and navigating college with a disability had the potential to prove isolating at times, Kestler found crucial support from Mesa College’s DSPS counselors.


Mesa College’s DSPS Department helps students like Kestler as they access the equitable resources and support they need during their time at community college. Accommodations and services vary depending on students’ verified disabilities and counselors’ determinations, and may range from priority registration, to test proctoring, tutoring, note-taking assistance, access to adaptive computer software, and more.


With the help of his DSPS counselors, Kestler found the classes he needed to take to earn his associate degree and received strengths-based guidance that enabled him to progress toward his educational goals. Ultimately, DSPS helped Kestler keep his college and career plans in motion so he could maintain his forward-looking mindset.


After graduating with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences: Social and Behavioral Sciences with a Child Development concentration this spring, Kestler is on his way to transfer and attend San Diego State University in the fall. Kestler describes his efforts as cumulative; his decision to take a single class at Mesa College eventually amounted to his degree. As he prepares to continue his education, Kestler is ready to embark on a new chapter where he continues to tailor his education to his learning style and move incrementally toward his future career.


“Life just keeps moving forward and so should you,” Kestler says.


Kestler’s message of hope recognizes the difficulties of persevering toward his goals. However, with the support of student services, such as those in the DSPS Department, fortifying his resilience, Kestler can more readily view his education as a gateway to opportunity.    


Learn more about DSPS at Mesa College and the accommodations and services available to students with disabilities.

Tags: Alumni, DSPS, MLK, Nikolai Kestler