ACC Student Spotlight: Tyrah Bufford

07/05/2016

Inspiration can come in many shapes and sizes. For Tyrah Bufford, her inspiration came from an American Career College student who really likes iced coffee.

Bufford had worked for years as a security guard at a fast food restaurant near the ACC-Long Beach campus. A few months ago, a young man started showing up every morning to get his daily dose of caffeine. His friendly attitude and their conversations lead Bufford to check out the campus.

Inspire Club

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"I was seeing all the ACC students coming in and they're always smiling and happy and I would talk to — I didn't know his name was George — but I would talk to him and he would come in every day in get an iced coffee," Bufford said at a recent Inspire Club meeting. "He was my inspiration because he was always excited to come to class. I only knew him as Mr. Iced Coffee, so when I toured the campus, the door had barely opened to his dental assisting class and I'm like, 'Wait! That's Mr. Ice Coffee right there! That's who inspired me!'"

George is George Espulgar, a dental assisting student and program ambassador at ACC-Long Beach. He said Bufford was "just a loving person always smiling, greeting me every morning."

One day, he said, Bufford asked why he was wearing scrubs, what school he was going to and what program he was in.

"I gave her a little information and she told me her background so I really wanted to help her," he said. "After that day I told her to speak to any ACC administrator because they were very helpful and after that day, when I saw her again, she told me she's starting the next week."

Bufford is now entering her second module of the massage therapy program and thinks ACC is "amazing." She liked that campus staff and faculty are on a first-name basis with students. 

"I love it. The staff is always friendly. You can go and walk through the lobby and they're happy to see you," she said. "What really catches me is that they know my name — and I know that's probably small — but they have a million students and for them to know Tyrah Bufford is, like, 'Wow.'

"Everything here is a stepping stone, like how I met Mr. Iced Coffee — George — now we're buddies and I'm in school," Bufford said. "I started from the bottom and I'm completing it with five kids as a single mom. I'm doing it — and if I can do it, any of them can do it."

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