[I] learned at an early age the importance of advocating and valuing quality education thanks to my parents’ sacrifices. My family’s high regard for education began when my grandfather and his family immigrated from Zacatecas, Mexico. My Grandpa believed in the “American Dream” and saw education as the key to attaining it. Despite earning a low income at a factory job in Denver, my grandfather insisted on enrolling his 12 children in a parochial school. His struggle to educate 12 children positively influenced my mother, and it forever improved the course of my brothers and me.
Enrolling your child in school should be met with elation, but my mom experienced otherwise. The local public school enrolled my oldest brother in a bilingual classroom because Spanish was spoken in the household. My mom viewed the school’s policy as an injustice and responded immediately by placing my brother in a parochial school. In my eyes, it was at this moment that she became an advocate for quality education.
My parents strived to provide the best education they could afford. In third grade, I performed academically at a first-grade level. Rejecting my underperformance, my parents enrolled me in an upper-middle class parochial school known for their high academic achievement. At the new school, I began far behind my fourth-grade peers. As the only Latina in the school, I felt compelled to excel.
I realized that valuing education directly contributed to my academic success, most notably in college. I began my undergraduate studies as a psychology major, eager to experience diversity and study alongside other Latinos. After my first week of college, I felt discouraged by the fact that I was one of only a few Latinos attending. My dissatisfaction with the status quo only increased that year when I served on a student panel for a local high school. I read the following statement “At times I feel as if I do not deserve to go to college.” This statement left me broken. Who is to say this student, as well as many other students, is not worthy of attending college simply because of their race or economic status. This experience, and my devotion to education deriving from my heritage motivated me to advocate on behalf of all students and ensure they receive the best education possible.
Since college, my passion resides within enhancing the educational landscape for Latino students so they may become proud college graduates. As an Assistant Principal and a former teacher, I invest my time and effort in serving low-income communities where household resources are often limited. I see families dedicate themselves to their children’s education. Rightly so, I committed myself to serving them with an equal degree of dedication and pursue a master’s in educational leadership. To better serve the Denver Hispanic community, I aim to open an elementary school in southwest Denver. With the support of LatPro and the development from Columbia University- Summer Principals Academy, I can achieve this goal.
To better serve the Denver Hispanic community, I aim to open an elementary school in southwest Denver. With the support of LatPro and the development from Columbia University- Summer Principals Academy, I can achieve this goal.
We are proud to announce Karolina Villagrana is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.