Before logging off, i would like to thank my amazing staff (new family) members for everything they have done for me these past few weeks! They are all truly amazing people who have a lot to offer for any and all of the students at the UNR campus. Being able to see the impact that these people have had on all the students that have visited The Center is amazing for sure! Seeing how the students also use what they are given is really cool as well because things like this is not really seen on high school campuses! I want to thank Ricky, Avory, Araceli, Jody, Will, and Saundra for making me feel welcomed – as if i have known them forever – for making these past few weeks as if i were at home, there was never a moment in which i never looked forward to getting to my internship! A thousand times i say thank you to these amazing individuals located on the 3rd floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union, in The Center, Every Student Every Story!
For some of you who don’t know, Avory Wyatt is a student leader up at The Center! My first impression of Avory was “I don’t think he likes me”, but as I spent more time around him, he turned out to be one cool dude! Avory was born in Reno, Nevada on May 19, 1996. As i learn more and more about his childhood on his reservation, it sounds like a whole lot of fun. Avory mentions how he and the kids he would spend time with would find “ways to play by making forts in trees” and what not, he had that childhood where technology did not take over (really the best way to grow up). Knowing how creative and innovative he was as a child, it is easy to see why he has become adventurous. Hearing about the many different states he has visited and the multiple football stadiums he has seen is freaking cool in my opinion! Also hearing about his DJing and how it became so much more than simple remixes on his phone is just wow! Avory was one of those kids who grew up playing sports so it kept him from being really involved in cultural events like pow wows and it also kept him from being able to participate in TRiO programs. Avory was lucky enough to be a part of the Summer Youth Education Program – which was provided by his tribe – allowing him to take part of internships in multiple locations. Many of us have those role models to look up to, Barack Obama is a person who definitely motivates Avory. Avory aspires to be like Obama because of the overall wellness he provided minorities during his time as president. Avory really admires the way that “Obama brought our country together and gave a little bit of power back”. Although Avory’s life seems to be very cool, there have been some challenges he has been faced with. Avory would say that his biggest challenges were the fact that he was unprepared for college. Although it was a set plan for Avory, he did not think it was as important as it is now. Avory really struggled with managing his studying and the amount of credits he was taking, once he managed both, it allowed him to prosper with his mission on getting his major. The other challenge that Avory had was the fact that as he was growing up, he only lived in two places – the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the Hungry valley Reservation – which caused him a little bit of a struggle when trying to adjust to the college atmosphere. Avory would also say that The Center was a huge part of his success in college due to the fact that they provided support for him – he “felt more at home in College”. Avory’s little inspirational quote comes from Barack – “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.
Araceli Martinez was born in Morelia, Michoacan on November 20 – which happened to be the same day the Mexican Revolutionary War ended! Being able to sit down and discuss her childhood was seriously one of the most memorable moments here at The Center. Araceli told me about how she grew up on a rancho for the first six years of her life. She described it as a little piece of land where there was only dirt roads, her house being located there. Araceli mentioned how her house had only two rooms – the kitchen and a sleeping room, (yeah, there was no bathroom). Araceli would say that she would not change a thing about her childhood, it allowed her to grow up humble and grateful for what she given. As many people do, Araceli has that desire to go back to her hometown, the endless memories and experiences she had there are things she will forever cherish. Having to migrate to the United States as a young child was something very difficult – “it was definitely hard having to leave my little brothers behind” – but she knew she couldn’t let her mother go on that journey on her own. Being in the United States was something very different to Araceli, having to learn English and being able to fulfill her education was also something very tiring for her. Araceli emphasizes the importance of her involvement with Upward Bound for those reasons. Upward Bound was able to provide her with tutoring for her academic needs, information on college (financial aide, applications, etc.), and simply the comfort and support she had from the staff. Araceli believes that if it weren’t for Upward Bound, a lot of what she has accomplished would not have happened and simply how they essentially made things a little easier. Coming the long way she has these past years have been rough but there is not a moment she regrets – “everything happens for a reason” -. Much of this has come from one of the multiple people that she admires, her mom. Araceli has great admiration for her mom – “regardless of the situation, I have never seen my mom cry” -. Araceli has always seen her mother as a fighter, a person who will go the extra mile to provide for her loved ones, which is something that really inspires Araceli to keep going. Araceli’s grandma is someone who motivates her as, she will forever remember her grandma for the story of why Araceli is the way she is – “my grandma told me that I am revolutionary person because of my birthday, which makes a lot of sense” – Araceli is a person who is also family orientated, her family is what drives her – “making sure they’re okay and stable keeps me motivated” -. Being able to see how many morals, stories, and experiences we have in common make me feel even more at home with the staff here at The Center! Araceli finished her story off with some motivation, “lo que hagas hoy solamente affectara tu futuro” (what you do today will only effect your future).
Saundra Mitrovich, born in Paradise, California on August 26, 1979, is one of the many hardworking people i have met. Just like the majority of those we know, she would spent lots of time with her family and friends – “I had a great amount of close friends and remember fun sleepovers” – . Saundra also grew up playing basketball – she is now a coach for the freshman girls team up at Wooster! – softball, and enjoyed swimming. Saundra is a person who always strives to make humanity better, who is always thankful to be alive and healthy, a person who spends endless hours in programs and volunteering opportunities to make her surroundings better. Some of the big programs that have allowed Saundra to continue her passion are AmeriCorps, United Way, and TRiO. From being introduced to TRiO as an undergrad at Cameron University, to joining the McNair Scholars – “it truly changed my whole perspective on graduate school and research” – to The Talent search program, all these programs have shaped who Saundra is today, a person who is super passionate about student success and just passionate about anything she sets herself up for! Saundra’s journey to college can be related to by many other students. She says that her parents would talk about the importance of getting to college and earning a degree but never really had a good grasp on how to get there. The common challenge of getting to college is not having the information (or knowledge) or knowing how or where to get resources to make college a possibility, was Saundra’s case. the manner in which she overcame these obstacles was by taking part in “leadership activities, civic engagement, and other programs”, although it didn’t necessarily make the college process easier, it allowed her to develop her character. Saundra’s parents and grandparents, like many of us, are her inspiration. The fact that they are hard workers, always believe in family, and have always supported her in anything and everything that she does always makes her motivated to keep pushing! Hearing about Saundra’s experiences with student services have made me love The Center even more. She says – “time in student services has taught me to be selfless and kind”. Saundra described her experience with such emotion and passion; it’s really cool to see that it is really more that just a job to these amazing individuals, it really is a way of living! Some words of wisdom from our lovely Saundra to you all are “Don’t just find one path to get to your goal, choose multiple routes because it is often times the most challenging ones that leads us to our destiny!”. Simply hearing about Saundra, her involvement, her aspirations, and her willingness really makes me see how one person can make such a huge change! Make sure to stop by, talk to her, and thank her for everything that she does!
Ricky Salazar was born in Reno, Nevada on August 4, 1988. Ricky grew up in a trailer park, which is something that he takes great pride in till this day. When Ricky took the time to talk about his memories in this trailer park, it gave me a really warm feeling inside! Knowing that even though he had very few belongings, he was still happy with what he had and the simple fact that he was surrounded by loving and caring people was more than enough for him, he was definitely grateful! As years passed, he transitioned from Sparks High School to North Valleys High School – high school being where he joined Upward Bound!. When asked what school he went to, Ricky mentioned both due to the fact that both schools provided him with different experiences and opportunities which led him to where he is now. Once Ricky began discovering more about himself, he realized one of his biggest passions; making people happy. Ricky is the type of person to make sure that anyone around him is having a wonderful day regardless of his “personal conflicts”, he will go the extra mile to try and make your day better, make you love life, so if you are ever feeling down, Ricky is definitely your guy! In the time that Ricky was in college, “finding the motivation to continue going to school and finishing” was his biggest challenge. Ricky believes it was not challenging getting to college, it was just hard finding the balance among the many different activities and groups he wanted to be a part of and his school work was really challenging. Many of us have those role models we look up to, whether it is someone who is famous or simply an older brother or sister, well Ricky’s mom is his inspiration. Ricky finds her way of finding a solution to a problem is simply amazing, her street smarts, and the knowledge his mother has is something he definitely admires – he really aspires to be like his mom! Being Latino, Ricky really enjoys the food, the family parties, and the amazing music – being a performer, music is something very important to him! When Ricky talks about his time working in student services, he mentions how he always has had more success than failures, it makes him feel satisfied and essentially student services has become a big part of him and personality – especially that Latino Graduation!!!! Ricky’s advice to you is “orale echale ganas que todo se puede! (come on, put in work because everything is possible). Thank you guys for reading, maybe take the time to pay Ricky a visit and you can possibly learn more about this amazing individual!
The Toy Box Leadership workshop was hosted by some of our fellow staff members up at The Center in which some of the DFS students came in and learned about leadership and networking through some “childhood toys” (as Avory had put it). For half of the workshop, the students were given a piece of Play-Doh in which they played with. The Play-Doh served as one’s life – symbolizing how life has to be molded, reshaped, and kept fresh. After the students got some time to play, they had to mix their piece with another kids Play-Doh, symbolizing that students should mix with others and create new things. Some of the students were surprised, others were unsatisfied with how the final color turned out, but life tends to throw curve balls at us as well, regardless of it being bad or good! The second part of the workshop, the students had to build a structure, no rules or what not that they had to build. Some of the groups decided to build their own structure, others had a single structure. Seeing the range of ideas, reactions, and outcomes was pretty mind blowing. After asking about their thought process on building the structures, many would say that it was a person who took charge, others who said they simply began building from pieces they saw. The Mega Bloks were used to symbolize many things: they served as building blocks of life, the need to make things fit in a certain way, etc. Being able to be a part of this workshop with both Avory Wyatt and Saundra Mitrovich was truly an honor. The two days i spent assisting, i was able to learn different definitions of leadership, networking, and culture. Hearing the vast range of answers show that there is never a set definition for anything, so if one ever feels as if they do not fulfill the meaning of something, they are wrong. There is so much that we can learn from each other and i know that by the end of the workshop, we all learned the Importance of Leadership.
Jody Lykes, The Centers Student Development Coordinator. To many, Jody may seem like a simple staff member that works at The Center (one of the coolest places on campus) and to others, he is a very cool individual. Jody grew up between Sunnyside, WA and Santa Maria, CA. Jody could describe his childhood as a time where he loved going to beaches located in California and the times he spent in Washington camping out with his friends. During his summers spent in Cleveland, OH, he met an amazing man named Mr. Perkins who had looked out for him and had also taught him so much, now Jody looks at Mr. Perkins as a person who really inspires him! As people are growing up, they do not know whether or not college is an option or how to get there, Jody was one of those students. Jody says that he “wanted to go to college but never really knew how to get there” and that is the reality of many potential students. Jody believes that he began learning more and more during his summer bridge program, Discovery, he would take part of – essentially being a huge part of his future success. So a quick piece of advice – take part of any and all programs available, they can be very helpful! Many of the common challenges people have are getting through school, overcoming those stereotypes, or even the simplest yet most complex tasks (whether it is a school assignment or a job task). Jody is, once again, a person who relates to many of these challenges and barriers. He mentions how difficult it was filling out paperwork (like FAFSA) because he was a first generation student – i don’t know about you guys but i definitely relate to this! If it weren’t for Upward Bound, i would be lost. A big aspect of who Jody is now has to do with his experiences with student services. Jody would definitely say that the students he has worked will have inspired him because of the endless stories and life skills he has heard from a multitude of students. The overall aspect of the students success have also made him who is today. He talks about how the cultural graduations are ceremonies that really get to him, he “watches students walk across the stage and remember stories about them.” Some of advise from Jody is “Don’t quit!”, guys, keep trying, it gets easier! Being able to learn about Jody has been through amazing, there are many things people will be astonished to hear about Jody Lykes.