CMAP major experiences challenging firsts, hopes to inspire others like him.

No one in Luis Montanez’s family went to college, and when he began to fill out applications, it wasn’t easy.

Montanez, a Mexican-born, local Norcross resident, felt some family pressure to pursue college. His high school teacher took up the cause and instilled a sense of obligation in Montanez to become an inspiration for his siblings as the first in his family to attend college.

As a GGC freshman, Montanez developed perhaps more so than any other time in his life. Encouraged by others, he attended a meeting of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) and immediately felt welcomed to the club.

“I could get used to this,” he recalled thinking and later pursued a leadership position with the club to become director of members.

Montanez quickly met another student in OLAS, who recommended he apply to become a student ambassador. Montanez’s multi-lingual skills connected him with the GGC community and helped pull him out of his, admittedly, shy and introverted high school shell.

“I do feel like I’ve changed a lot in terms of academics,” Montanez said. “Being a student ambassador has helped me connect with professors. I run into them in the science building, and they say ‘You’re a student ambassador.’” His visible ambassador role around campus offers him the advantage of having met many of his professors, easing first day introductions each new semester.

“That’s really opening doors for me,” he said. “They know who I am already.” Fostering these relationships also creates future opportunities, and when needed, letters of recommendation. 

Montanez is enrolled in one of the youngest majors on GGC’s campus – cinema media arts production. The CMAP degree offers students ways to study a variety of careers, including broadcasting, social media management, public relations and publishing. GGC added the major to align students with Georgia’s growing film industry, giving them a competitive edge in the job market.

“I really love how a movie can make somebody feel something; it can inspire people,” Montanez said, who is starting his own film and photography company to share similar stories as his own.

He’s learned enough to think about advice he would give to a younger version of himself.

“Be okay with being out of your comfort zone, even if you’re quiet. Look for someone to help or support you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, or throw yourself into an interest or organization. Along the way, you’ll learn from each experience.”