I was raised in Raleigh, NC. I mentioned Raleigh because I believe where I was raised has played a role in my experience in working in rural Appalachia. For many, Raleigh is still considered rural, but I like to say that it is not rural, rural. I serve in Wilkesboro, at Wilkes Central High School, which is very rural to me. Serving in rural NC has been an adjustment just in regard to what I am used to, but it has been a great learning opportunity. It seems like everyone in a way knows each other. I have been the outsider coming in. Learning about the surrounding community has been a part that I enjoy about my job.
I am a recent first-generation graduate from Appalachian State University. I mention being a first-generation graduate because that is what drew me to this work. I have grown up around a very supportive family that wanted me to go to college, but they had no idea how to guide me through the process. When I was trying to figure out the FAFSA, college applications, and just navigating the big thought of college, I really wished I had someone to help guide me. I love my job, and it fills me with joy to know that I can be a college access point for some students. I also love seeing how passionate the Wilkes Central team is when it comes to really helping the students figure out what they want to do not only in high school but after high school as well.
As a Latina, there have been specific adjustments that I have had to make. Raleigh in a way is more diverse than the area I serve in, so, again, there have been adjustments made in my personal life. However, in Wilkes Central, there is a large representation of the LatinX community. Being a fluent Spanish speaker has come in handy with working with some of the Latinx students and their families. I have been fortunate to be able to work with the wonderful Wilkes Central community, but being able to serve the LatinX community, has been a plus for me.
Working in an environment that I am not used to has helped my professional life because it has presented me with experiences to grow and expand. I am also getting to learn from my coworkers at the high school. Some of them come from the Wilkes area, while others do not. Having their input in the work that I do benefits me because it allows me to broaden the range of students I can connect to. I have always wanted to incorporate helping the LatinX community in the work that I do, and serving at Wilkes Central has allowed me to do that. Plus, getting to work on my interpretation and translating skills is also benefiting my professional life.
As I mentioned, this area is very new to me. Although I have found it difficult at times to get situated, the Wilkes Central community and the CAC community has really been supportive. Everything from Wilkes Central staff telling me local places to explore, to being a part of the National CAC Boston Summit has really helped me enjoy my job. I look forward to continuing my work at Wilkes Central High School, and I have been fortunate to have been placed at such a college-going cultural school.