Margarita Vidrio, left, and Ingrid Morente
 
 
PULLMAN – Student ambassadors helped Ingrid Morente get into WSU’s highly competitive teacher education program. This year, she’s passing on the favor, thanks in part to a gift from a Bellevue music teacher.
 
In 1998, retired teacher James Taylor heard of the College of Education’s efforts to recruit and mentor students of color. Although he was white, Taylor taught many students of color in his western Washington classrooms and choruses. He wanted them to succeed and knew it was important for them to see faces like their own among their teachers.
 
A Spokane native and 1963 graduate of WSU, Taylor contacted the college and offered to help. He died eight months later. When his estate was settled, it included $186,766 to establish the James Taylor Future Teachers of Color Endowment.
 
In recent years, the Future Teachers and Leaders of Color program has recruited student ambassadors and provided them with scholarships from the Taylor endowment.
 
It was these ambassadors who helped Morente – the first person in her family to attend college – prepare for her WSU admission by conducting a mock interview.
 
In turn, she is an ambassador for prospective students.
Morente’s family emigrated from Guatemala to Wenatchee when she was a child.
 
“I’ve always worked with children – volunteering for Sunday school, doing day care,” she said.
 
After high school graduation, she worked three years as a para-educator at Washington Elementary School in Wenatchee. A teacher friend encouraged her to go to college so she could someday have a classroom of her own. She got an associate’s degree at Wenatchee Valley Community College and applied for admission to WSU.
 
Morente has help paying her tuition from the Taylor endowment. So does Margarita Vidrio, a Kennewick High School graduate who is in her second year as an ambassador.
 
Vidrio plans to be a high school math teacher. The passion for education runs in the family; she has an aunt and two cousins who are teachers in Mexico.
 
These two young women did not get to meet their benefactor, James Taylor, but their enthusiasm for education seems in keeping with his own. One of Taylor’s former students said of him: “He worked 15 hours a day and on weekends. He never turned a kid away.”
 
“Transforming gifts” is an occasional series about the ways gifts to WSU have changed and improved how the university fulfills its missions of research/scholarship, teaching/learning and service. To make a gift to WSU, go to http://foundation.wsu.edu/campaign/