I would like to bring underrepresented populations into the conversation on the impact of education, not only in specific communities, but in the entire state.
As program director of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at Wenatchee Valley College, Yuritzi Lozano (MEd ‘13) has witnessed the power of students becoming advocates for their own education.
Last year, she recalls mentoring a first-generation student who was struggling in school. One of his parents was laid off and the student had to work up to 50 hours per week to help his family. As a first-generation college graduate herself, Lozano understood the challenge facing her mentee and encouraged the student to advocate for himself and his future. Together, the student and his family made arrangements that allowed him to quit his job and focus on school.
“If we had not encouraged him, he might have dropped out of school,” Lozano said. “It was a proud moment, hearing him say, ‘I could not have done this without your support.’”
Leading CAMP—a federally-funded program that supports students from migrant/seasonal farmworker backgrounds during their first year of college—is personal for Lozano.
The daughter of seasonal farmworkers who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, Lozano enrolled in the University of Washington after high school and worked at the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center as a student employee.
Upon graduating, she worked at El Centro de la Raza, a non-profit organization that empowers members of the Latino community in Seattle. While serving as a college access coach, Lozano worked with middle and elementary school students who were primarily from low-income households.
These experiences motivated Lozano to further develop her skills in student support, leading her back to the UW to to earn her master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies. During her studies at the UW College of Education, Lozano volunteered with CAMP as a translator for bilingual parent orientations.
When a position opened with CAMP at Wenatchee Valley College, Lozano jumped at the opportunity to give back to the community where she grew up.
“I saw myself as someone who could relate to the students,” she said. “Giving students the ability to see themselves reflected in the staff is an important part of enabling them to achieve their goals.”
While the program serves students from migrant/seasonal farmworker backgrounds, many of the students enrolled in the program at Wenatchee Valley College tend to be from Hispanic and Latino backgrounds, who make up 40 percent of the student body at the two-year community college. Students in the program meet with staff quarterly while taking a seminar on college navigation skills, financial literacy, continuing their education at a four-year college and career readiness.
In addition to offering academic and financial support, CAMP provides life-changing experiences for students through college campus visits. As an alum, Lozano often brings groups of students from Wenatchee Valley to the UW. While students can feel intimidated by the size of the school, Lozano says that the visit helps many students understand the personal and academic support offered at the UW and apply.
“They often want to go to the same schools as their friends, but I want to help them see that they need to make that decision for themselves,” she said. “I have students say that they never thought they would go to a certain school, but I want to encourage them to picture themselves doing more.”
Lozano plans to continue supporting college students, especially those from Hispanic and Latino backgrounds, both as a mentor and helping drive policy changes.
“I would like to bring underrepresented populations into the conversation on the impact of education, not only in specific communities, but in the entire state.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications