Karla Andrade was not going to give up on her goal of a college degree. After moving to Portland from her small Klamath Falls community, Karla endured a rough transition into College, struggling to maintain a good GPA and feel connected.
“In high school, I was involved. I earned good grades. I felt like a big fish in a small pond because everyone knew me. In Portland, I felt like I was thrown into the ocean.”
However, Karla didn’t want to be deterred from her goal of earning a communications degree and pursuing a career in Spanish broadcasting. By the end of her freshman year she had pulled her grades up but faced a financial obstacle:
“I didn’t know I had to continue applying for financial aid, and I quickly realized I was not going to have enough money to continue.”
Encouraged by her parents to get the education they never had the opportunity to pursue, she went home to Klamath Falls and spent the next year and a half attending community college and saving money.
In January 2013, Karla returned to Portland State for the second time, determined to succeed and reconnect with the campus she had left. She joined student organizations such as Las Mujeres de la Raza, which gave her a sense of community and the confidence to be a leader for other Latino students struggling in college.
“I want to be an example to the Latino community that higher education and a better career path are possible.”
Karla’s leadership and dedication to education has earned her a President’s Equal Access Scholarship, and her service to the Latino community helped her to be selected for the nationwide “Latinas Learning to Lead” program, part of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Karla is looking forward to the summer program and meeting other influential Latina leaders who want to give back to their community:
“It doesn’t matter if I make it and become successful, if I don’t help others preserve and become successful as well. Everything I learn I have to pass on!”