Humberto Garcia is a 2003 High School Equivalency Program (HEP) graduate, and father of three children with one more on the way. Since his graduation from HEP, Humberto has gone through many hardships, but has stood up and kept on going. Now he is recognized as a student who has shown extreme growth not only as a student, but as a parent as well.
Humberto came from Mexico at age 19, knowing no English. When he arrived in the United State, he did not think about education. Humberto knew that he came here to work to help his parents financially, not go to school. While working in the fields, along with his parents, Humberto heard about the HEP program, and that is when education sparked an interest in him. He knew he did not want to be breaking his back in the fields like he was at the time, and he knew if he wanted to get a better job he would need to get an education. Within just a few months, Humberto obtained his GED certificate with the help from Columbia Basin College HEP .
After obtaining his GED certificate Humberto was determined to continue his education by taking ESL classes here in the Basic Skills department, but still did not think he could one day attend CBC as a full-time college student. Humber said he could vividly remember his HEP staff and instructors encouraging him to continue his education and attend college, but because of his language barrier he did not think it could be possible for him. After completing all levels of ESL he did not know what to do, but once again he was reminded of his potential so he decided to apply to CBC. Humberto became a MESA math tutor and that is when he decided to obtain his Associate of Applied science degree in Mechanical Engineering. This June, Humberto graduated from CBC with his AAS in Mechanical Engineering, and was surprised when he was recognized in front of all his peers during the Columbia Basin College Commencement.
Humberto’s dedication to his education has been a great motivation to the rest of our HEP students as well as the Columbia Basin College students and staff. Humberto is currently completing his pre-requisites at CBC, so that he can transfer to WSU Tri Cities and obtain his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. This summer Humberto also will earn the Department of Energy Community College Internship and is now a student worker at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) along with other engineers.
Humertos said that he knows his education process has been a long one, but he thanks the HEP program for giving him the opportunity to take that first step into education in his native language, which has now opened his doors to many more opportunities. He hopes that Programs like the High School Equivalency Program continue to serve the migrant people because just like him there are people who want to get educated and want to become someone that can benefit this country, but just needed that helping hand to guide them through the process and let them know that they can succeed in this country of opportunity.
Andres Gonzalez was born in Santa Rosa, Mexico and at the age of one Andres was brought to the United States by his parents. Andres says his father brought him to the United States because in Mexico they could not make ends meet and felt that by coming to the United States his family could prosper. Andres lived in Calhoun Georgia and went to school there until the age of 18 when he and his family moved to Washington State. Once in Washington Andres did not continue high school being the oldest child out of three, he knew he needed to work to help his family through their harsh financial problems.
Two years after moving to Washington Andres had grown unhappy with his situation, and knew he was destined for better things. Andres says he always knew he wanted to finish school, but didn’t know where he could obtain his GED since he was 20 years old and felt like high school was not an option. While working in the fields Andres heard about the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) at Columbia Basin College (CBC) through the radio, and decided to take the challenge and enroll.
When Andres enrolled into HEP he knew he wanted to go to college, but did not know if he would be able to because of his legal status. After attending his academic advising appointment with HEP he realized he had a lot of options to further his education, and was determined to graduate as soon as possible. Andres excelled in all his official test exams, and in less than two months he obtained his GED certificate.
Andres says he is thankful that he had HEP as a guide into higher education. He says HEP helped him find scholarships and helped him apply to CBC. This fall, Andres will be attending Columbia Basin College as a freshman. During his first interview with HEP Andres planned to get a degree in Business Management, but after attending HEP he enjoyed his math classes so much that he decided to pursue a degree in Mathematics. Once Andres obtains his Associate in Arts and Sciences at CBC he plans to continue his education and transfer to Heritage University here in the Tri-Cities in hopes of becoming a high school math teacher.
Andres says he feels he has been given a second chance to better himself because after all the hardships he has been through and lack of legal status, HEP has opened a path for him to better himself. “HEP is a great program. It makes a difference in the community, especially in the Latino community because it gives everyone hope that they can become that better educated person we all want to be.” Andres has become an inspiration to many students who come to the United States in hopes of a better life, and because of their legal status are forced to give up on their dream of getting an education. Andres has showed them that with devotion and strength of mind everyone, even undocumented students can pursue their dream of higher education.
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