With all the attention on childish antics, power plays and petty politics in our school district of late, it’s easy to become discouraged about the future of our students. But as President Obama said in his address on education to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce March 10, “The time for finger pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here.”
In that spirit, I’d like to introduce one very accountable 1999 Taos High School graduate named Tanya Gonzales. She is currently employed at Holy Cross Hospital as a Prescriptions Assistance Coordinator, and thanks to recommendations by Pharmacists John Hutchinson and Tamra Brown, was named Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year by the New Mexico Health Society of Assistant Pharmacists for 2008. A 28 year old single mom, Tanya has recently been accepted into the UNM Pharmacy program, and four years from now she will have her Doctor of Pharmacy Degree. Her career path and focus on education are models worth exploring.
“Lucky for me, life is my motivation,” she chuckled. “I’m a very independent person. High school offered advanced placement classes to keep me challenged. I was also involved in the Mariachi program, and that was fun for me. And I took dual credit classes: biology with Mr. Gilroy, of course, and a couple of chemistry classes and calculus my senior year. Dual credit was a good first step. It helped me understand how hard the material was going to be when I started my freshman year of college. I enrolled three semesters at UNM-Taos before going to main campus. I didn’t know what I wanted to do specifically, but I knew I needed to get started on my basics. I have a younger brother that is going to UNM-Taos now. I’m really close to him, and the fact that he wanted to enroll and did it on his own is awesome.
“I grew up in a very supportive family. I’m the first person in my immediate family to go to college, but they supported me in anything I wanted to do. Even now my mom and my dad and my partner are so excited. It’s going to be a long four years but I have their support behind me. Without that support I don’t think I would have come this far.
“I try to include my daughter in everything I do. She’s my motivation and the light of my life. I want her to know as a minority woman that she can do whatever she wants. Today she says she wants to be a fire fighter, and I say she can be a fire fighter if she puts her mind to it. Whatever path she chooses, I am going to be behind her, and I want to set that example for her.”
I asked Gonzales what advice she would give to this year’s graduating class. Without hesitation, she said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s the best way to learn. If something interests you, ask someone in that field. You gain knowledge by the experience of others. Be determined. Put yourself out there. Experience things and get a grasp of what you want to do.”
I asked her what happens after she obtains her degree.
“I’m coming back to Taos. Taos is my home, and this is where I plan to stay.”
Judy Hofer, Director of The Literacy Center at UNM-Taos, wants the community to know that new classes are starting April 6 for free literacy, GED and ESL courses, and there are still a few openings. Call Judy at 758-5904 for more information on how to continue your own educational pathway.