CSCC Alum Builds Career After Graduation

Nehemias Perez Santiago, CSCC Alumni

CSCC Alum Builds Career After Graduation

Napierra Alexander
Monday, December 20, 2021 12:00 AM
All, Press Releases, Community, Alumni

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland State Community College encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to pursue their educational goals by receiving higher education. Nehemias Perez Santiago shows us that no matter what age you are, going back to school to pursue your career can be life changing. 

Santiago decided to go back to school in his thirties. He says he chose Cleveland State because of the welcoming environment and the flexible class schedules that worked well with his daily lifestyle. He started in the fall of 2018 majoring in Criminal Justice at the school of Arts and Sciences. Santiago graduated in May 2020 as the Distinguished Graduate. The Distinguished Graduate award is given each year to the graduating student who, in the opinion of the college faculty and staff, has contributed the most to the advancement and betterment of the college. 

Santiago recalls not being much of a social person before attending Cleveland State. His brother died a few years before he decided to attend college. Losing his brother to gun violence took him years to cope with and made it harder for him to get socially involved. That all changed his first semester at Cleveland State. 

“Before CSCC, I didn’t have purpose, I did not know my true potential, and I was not confident in myself,” stated Santiago. “The professors found ways to have us break the ice and engage in the various topics without having us feel like we were going to be judged. The club programs on campus gave me the chance to create new friendships. And later, the opportunity of becoming club president also helped me gain leadership skills.”

With the help of faculty and staff encouraging Santigao and offering job opportunities, he started to excel in his academics, being named for the Student Marshal Award his first semester at Cleveland State. He was also hired as a member of the CSCC campus security. Santiago expressed how grateful he is to the college for supporting him through his time in school. He appreciated that faculty and staff at Cleveland State listen to the students and advocate what’s best for them. Santiago witnessed that first hand. 

Now, Santiago works as part of the security team for Tennova Healthcare. He continues to show pride in his school and encourages anyone to attend. 

“Be engaged. Don’t be silent. Ask questions and make sure your professors know that you're interested, and they’ll guide you along the way,” stated Santigao. 

Looking back on all his accomplishments and memories made at Cleveland State, Santiago believes the college made a deep impact on his life. 

“I will never forget when we put together a group to feed the homeless around Thanksgiving,” explained Santiago. “It felt great to give back to the community. It was an honor to be one of the first students to take part in the first “I have a dream” march in memory of the great Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. right here in Cleveland, TN. I could go on and on, but these were some of the key moments at CSCC that helped shape my life.”

For more information on Cleveland State Community College, visit the website at or email If you are interested in applying, visit Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens, Tennessee and Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.

CSCC earned the Tennessee Board of Regent’s 2019 College of The Year. CSCC directly serve 
Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System of
Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27
colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 140,000 students.

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