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Role Model for Students(Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month)

Oct 13, 2022

By: Katherine Trowbridge

“I see myself as someone who can build relationships with students, provide reassurance, and give extra support. I also feel like a lot of students struggle with being able to afford college or knowing how to get there. Sharing my experience and the degrees I got, they can see, it is possible. I can tell them how I balanced work life and college. I had a full-time job as a bank teller while attending college. With my master’s, they can see that I’m here at work all day supporting them and also doing classes at night, etc.,” said Carmela Andrade, a Migrant Graduation Specialist at Connell High School.

Andrade was a migrant student herself, growing up in her hometown of Wahluke, WA. She was pulled out of school to travel to Mexico, moved to other communities over the summer so her parents could work in the fields and came back to Wahluke. She recalled waking up really early in the morning and helping her parents in agriculture in the summer; seeing the financial struggles. Andrade was the first in her family to graduate from college. She shared, “I think that’s really important to really be a success story and for those students to see my struggles were the same, and here I am.”

She attended Columbia Basin College receiving her AA Degree, moved on to receive her bachelor’s in social work from Heritage University and this past year, worked to obtain her master’s in higher education, with a concentration on student affairs from Liberty University.

She stated, “I received a bachelor’s in social work to be an advocate for families. My real passion is to advocate for students. My master’s classes gave me knowledge to advocate for and prepare students for higher education.”

Andrade moved to Othello where she worked at Columbia Basin Health Association and purchased a home. A friend who worked at the North Franklin School District told her of the position at CHS. It was exactly what she wanted to be doing.

Andrade sees more support staff for students, assisting and guiding them, than what even she had when she was in high school. She also sees that a lot of the students are ambitious, wanting to attend the University of Washington or other colleges to become doctors, lawyers, etc. “It’s a really positive thing to see,” she said, “It’s gonna be awesome to see in the next generations of Hispanics; to say my parent is a doctor, lawyer and that they can also do it.”

As a first-generation Hispanic, college student, Andrade has seen the struggles students face to reach those dreams but, with her own successful story, she is inspiring future students to reach for their dreams. “I hope to continue sewing into my students and families so that they can also assist their students outside of high school to be anything they want to be.”

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