Former National Hot Rod Association Funny Car champion Courtney Force-Rahal concedes her classes at Santiago Canyon College didn't exactly prepare her for a four-second sprint down a 1,000-foot track, but her studies at the community college prepared her well for the part of the career where she's not strapped into a nitromethane-burning rocket with wheels. Force-Rahal transferred from Santiago Canyon College to Cal State Fullerton, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications.

“Earning my degree has really helped me to go out and build relationships with sponsors, communicate with fans and be a great representative for top companies,” said Force-Rahal, the youngest daughter of 16-time NHRA World Funny Car Champion John Force.

She encouraged others to take a close look at their local community college when contemplating their higher education and career options. “Santiago (Canyon College) is a great school to help students figure out their career goals with all the variety of classes that they offer. However, if you already know what you want to do as a career, they can help put you on the right track for a faster graduation.”

Added Force-Rahal, who in 2013 became the first woman to qualify for the No. 1 position at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals: “Community colleges are a smaller and close-knit environment. They have smaller classrooms which give you a closer connection with teachers and students and more accessibility to ask your teachers questions throughout the lecture. The professors were great with one-on-one time with students. Counselors at community colleges are always available when you need them and they really helped to guide me in the right path while mapping out all of the classes I needed to take to get me in the right position to transfer to Fullerton.”