“We want to let young people know it’s possible for them to go to college, whether it’s a community college, public university or small private college,” said Escalera, who graduated from Linfield last year and now serves as a mentoring coordinator through the AmeriCorps Retention Project. “We tell them, ‘Yes, you can do it.’”
For the past three years, Latinos Adelante, a group Escalera helped found, has collaborated with McMinnville High School to bridge the communication gap with local Latino parents. When the high school offered monthly programs for parents, few showed up. Many parents don’t speak English and have not attended high school themselves, making visits intimidating.
Numbers swelled when the Linfield volunteers began to call parents with special invitations, and to translate English, baby-sit and explain graduation requirements at meetings. They also shared their convictions about the value of education.
Through her AmeriCorps position, Escalera recently established RISE, a college student-to-youth mentoring program in McMinnville. But she’s also looking ahead.
“I have dreams and goals that I want to achieve,” said Escalera, who plans to attend graduate school to study public policy.