By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Alejandra Cardoso, a recent graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities, was chosen as one of three representatives from Washington state to participate in the Council for Opportunity in Education’s National Policy Seminar March 19-22 in Washington, D.C.

The seminar affords representatives of low-income, first-generation and other students in the TRIO and GEAR UP communities the opportunity to tell members of Congress, congressional staff and the president’s administration about the history and success of the support programs. For more information on the seminar, visit http://www.coenet.org/policy_seminar.shtml.

“It is really an honor,” Cardoso said. “What I’m looking forward to most about the conference is the opportunity to develop myself as a leader, as well as the opportunity to connect with other students.”

She said the TRIO program at WSU Tri-Cities helped her succeed academically, which led to her work as a crime victim advocate with the Support, Advocacy and Resource Center (SARC) in Kennewick, Wash.

Tutoring, counseling to stay on course

Cardoso said she was raised in an environment where school wasn’t considered valuable. She dropped out her junior year of high school, and it wasn’t until after she had her first child at age 17 that she considered completing her high school diploma. The TRIO program, both at the community college level and at WSU Tri-Cities, helped ensure her success in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“I never really saw myself as a college student,” she said. “What really got me interested in going was when I worked at my first job at WorkSource. Seeing the social workers there inspired me to drive for my own success in that field. The TRIO program at WSU Tri-Cities kept me on track toward obtaining that goal.”

The program provided her with support services ranging from tutoring, to counseling about academic- and person-related issues and more.

“The TRIO staff always try to help you,” she said. “Just knowing that there was someone out there looking out for me and willing to help me, as long as I was willing to help myself, was crucial.”

Changing lives and policy

In her work as a crime victim advocate for SARC, Cardoso is fulfilling her dream of helping people get out of their despairing situations in order to live better and more prosperous lives. Specifically, she helps victims of harassment, assault, child abuse, identity theft and more.

“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone a university,” she said. “Now I’m working on my master’s, which will allow me to further help individuals suffering with dangerous and undesirable situations.

“TRIO and WSU Tri-Cities helped me get to where I’m at now,” she said. “I’m excited to share my story with others at the policy seminar and I hope that I can help inspire positive change at the national level.”

 

News media contacts:
Alejandra Cardoso, WSU Tri-Cities psychology alumnus, alejandra.cardoso@wsu.edu
Shiloh Penland, WSU Tri-Cities TRIO Student Support Services, 509-372-7389, spenland@tricity.wsu.edu
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu