Jorge’s Story

I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher or school counselor since high school and it hasn’t changed! I knew I would need a college degree and then a master’s degree. I’m from Wenatchee and I started at Wenatchee Valley College and earned my Associate’s Degree before transferring to Eastern Washington University where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education, Social Science and Spanish. I then got my Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Heritage University.

Even though I knew what I wanted to do since high school, there have been a lot of surprises. I’ve had 18 different jobs. I didn’t know how much technology would change over my career, or how important it would be to have a group of supportive colleagues especially as a BIPOC staff person. I’ve learned how important caring for myself is while I care for my students and colleagues and the responsibility I have to be a role model for others.

In education you generally get pay increases based on years of experience and also when there are new union contracts negotiated. You can also increase your pay by doing additional education throughout your career. 

A couple of highlights from my education journey and my career both involve helping and supporting others with a similar background to me see that they can do it too! In high school, I had the lead role in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. My drama teacher really believed in me and saw my potential. When we performed for middle schoolers, a group of Latino boys came up to me after and told me they wanted to be Dino too someday. I felt proud that I could show them things they might be able to do someday as they got older. Later, in college, I got to work with the Migrant Program giving other students from my hometown with a similar background the chance to go to a Leadership Camp. Now, as a school counselor at a very diverse high school, I get to support students through high school and on to college when they graduate!

What do you wish you had known when you were a high school senior?

I wish I would have known a lot more about financial aid and paying for college. I also wish I would have known more about budgeting and what to do to avoid getting in debt. I wish there had been a teacher or staff of color who would have sat down with me and explained their college experience as a person of color, but unfortunately there were not teachers or staff of color in my high school back then.  

What is your favorite thing about being an adult?

My favorite thing about being an adult is having the financial freedom and privilege to live a life my parents wanted for me.  Growing up in a migrant farm working family was very challenging financially, physically and emotionally, but I would not change this experience whatsoever as it contributed to the adult I am today. 

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is working with students and doing my best to be a supportive advocate in high school and beyond.  I feel honored to share space in a critical part of a student’s academic, career and social development.  I am also privileged to learn from students.  In addition to my enjoyment of working with students, I take pleasure in working with wonderful colleagues, parents and community partners.

Read more real stories about adulting here!