“I hope to inspire people my age or even younger to go to college. They still have an opportunity, and it’s not as scary as it seems.”
Meet Jesenia Larios
Class of 2024 | Spanish and Secondary Education | Yakima, Washington
When Jesenia graduated high school in 2001, she couldn’t imagine herself pursuing a college degree.
“I just didn’t have the same opportunities or help to find out how to get to college,” she said. “I was the first in my family to speak English and graduate high school.”
Jesenia’s parents moved to Yakima from Mexico in the 1980s, where they worked on orchards picking cherries and other produce.
“Every morning my dad would say to do our best, because he’s working hard so one day we don’t have to,” Jesenia said. “We were a low-income family, but if you look past those challenges, you see you have pretty good memories that shaped who you are today.”
In 2019, Jesenia enrolled at Yakima Valley College to continue her career in education. She eventually joined the YVC Honor Society and began to get offers from colleges around the country. However, after visiting her niece, a WSU student, she decided to come to Pullman.
“Pullman just has this tranquility, this peace,” Jesenia said. “There is this mix of student life and family life and community life that all kind of revolve around each other cohesively. And because it’s family friendly, it’s made the transition easy for me and my children.”
After graduation, Jesenia hopes to return to the Yakima School District and work with Spanish-speaking students and their families.
“As students get older, they sometimes feel like their parents can’t relate to them and that they can’t relate to their culture, so they feel stuck in between,” Jesenia said. “I want to connect with those families and those first- or second-generation students to show them the path they can build alongside their parents.”