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As a Future Educator, Adela Hopes to Give Hispanic Children a Place of Belonging

By SU Integrated Marketing

SALISBURY, MD---Growing up, college was never an easy topic for Adela Rubio-villafuerte.

As a first-generation college student and one of three children, there were many barriers to her education. She remembers her high school guidance counselor asking everyone in her class what colleges they were considering – but at the time, Rubio-villafuerte wasn’t sure if a four-year institution was even an option for her.

As the child of migrant workers, Rubio-villafuerte qualified for the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) at Salisbury University. The grant pays for the first year of tuition, books, and room and board for migrant workers and their children. Thanks to that grant, Rubio-villafuerte was able to enter SU’s Early Childhood Education Program.

“If you had told me years ago that I would be attending SU, I would have laughed,” Rubio-villafuerte said. “But now that I’m here, it has opened up a door of endless possibilities for me.”

Rubio-villafuerte has had many opportunities at SU that have helped her grow as a future educator and as a person. Her placement at Pinehurst Elementary School made her realize that education is her calling, and she even sponsored a classroom in Mexico City. Her dream is to become superintendent of her childhood school in Crisfield, MD, where she can support and inspire other children like her.

“Currently there are so few Lantinx educators in our schools,” Rubio-villafuerte said. “If we only make up 10% of educators, I hope to be part of the 11%.”

Rubio-villafuerte knows as well as anyone the importance of that goal. In 2015, she experienced the separation of her family. At the time, her mother and older sister were undocumented immigrants, and they returned to Mexico to begin the process of getting their visas. Rubio-villafuerte and her little sister thought they would be gone for two weeks at most – but they weren’t able to come back to the country, and it would be more than a year before they returned.

During this time, Rubio-villafuerte was in middle school, and there were many days when she felt lost. She wasn’t sure if her mother and sister would be there for her high school graduation. She wasn’t sure if they would be able to see her get married.

“It was very traumatic for my younger sister and me,” Rubio-villafuerte said. “I was just a kid. I was scared, and I wish I had someone who understood my situation.”

As an educator, Rubio-villafuerte wants to support Hispanic and Latinx children who may be going through the same thing. While it was a long road for her to get here, now she feels that it’s possible for her to be the role model she always needed.

“I want to reach out to as many little Brown children as I can and show them that if I could do it, they can do it, too,” Rubio-villafuerte said. “My parents came here to a different country, with different norms and a different language, and I want to show them that the sacrifice they made was worth it.”

Learn more about CAMP and other resources for first-generation college students.

Learn more SU and about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours.