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Katherine "Kat" Parada

Major: Sociology with a double minor in History and Chicanx Studies

Hometown: Victorville, CA

My academic journey has been full of firsts! I’m the first person in my family to graduate high school, a first-generation college student and the first-born daughter of Salvadoran immigrants! These three factures have impacted my pursuit of higher education in the following ways…. Being the daughter of Spanish speaking immigrants has always been a challenge when it came to my education. A lot of times I found myself taking on the adult roll when speaking for or translating for my parents at school events like conferences or awards assemblies. Because of the language barrier my parents could offer me much help with schoolwork either, which meant that I was often left to my own devices with homework or projects. As a result, I never got any extra help with my schooling at home or outside of school. Instead I was the point of reference for both my parents and my younger siblings. I never complained or felt like I was dealt an unfair hand because this was the only world I had ever known. I didn’t realize I was at a disadvantage until It came time to apply to college.

Applying to college was difficult for me because it was the first time I was truly doing something on my own! In high school things were relatively easy, we all just kind of followed our cohort and learned from each other, but college seemed different. Applying to university was an individual act, I couldn’t bring my best friend with me or ask my classmate for the answers on the SAT. The time for hand holding was over, I had to do this on my own. Because of fear of failure I did not take my college entrance exams and decided to go to community college to pursue a vocational career instead. In the fall of 2014 I enrolled in my first four classes at Victor Valley college. I have to admit that I felt like a failure at my local community college, I felt like people thought I wasn’t smart enough for a four year because I was at CC. I think that my feelings of inadequacy were what pushed me to excel in my courses and ultimately transfer to a four year.

During my time in community college I learned a lot! I got involved in campus culture and I joined student success programs like EOPS and Puente. These programs helped to guide me towards higher education, they nurtured me and gave me the skills needed to transfer to a four year. My time there gave me clarity, learned that I was every bit as capable of obtaining a college degree as anyone else. I learned that getting my AA-T wasn’t a mark of shame, but a badge of resilience. The two years I spent at VVC show the world how serious I am about my education, because anyone who has gone through the transfer process knows that it’s not easy.

Now at CI work with PEEPS as a University Culture and Experience Mentor. My job is to give information to middle school, high school and community college students about the mechanics of higher ed and how to get there. I do what I do to help students who are going through what I went through in the beginning of my academic journey. I feel so passionate about helping others access higher ed that after I graduate, I plan on getting my (MPA) master’s in public administration so that I can bring my ideas to the public sector. My dream is to work on Capitol Hill advocating for equity and equal opportunity in the public-school systems so that no student is overlooked or forgotten.