Che Mondragon’s Journey from TECC to Community Support Worker

March 19, 2024


Taoseño Che Mondragon has found his calling in supporting the local community, particularly its youth. Having grown up in Taos and attended school there, Mondragon’s journey from the Taos Educational Career Center (TECC) program to his current role as a Community Support Worker (CSW) at Taos High School exemplifies the transformative power of education and community engagement.

Reflecting on his path, Mondragon shares, “I think this work came to me. It wasn’t something that I was necessarily looking for.” With a background in restaurant work and construction, Mondragon’s transition into community support was serendipitous. Encouraged by his own educational journey, which began with obtaining his High School Equivalency (HSE) through the TECC program and continued with the Community Health Worker (CHW) program at UNM-Taos, Mondragon found himself increasingly recognized for his interpersonal skills and ability to connect with young people.

Describing his role as a CSW, Mondragon explains, “I support teens right now specifically ranging from 13 to 18 or beyond if they need continued support.” He emphasizes the multifaceted nature of his work, which encompasses academics, socialization, recreation, independent living, and home life. Mondragon’s commitment extends beyond the school setting as he facilitates connections between families and community resources, aiming to enhance overall well-being.

Taos Behavioral Health recognized Mondragon’s background and commitment to positive change by offering him a position to work with high school students—a decision Mondragon describes as life-changing. “It feels good being able to support my community, especially in the school that I once attended,” he shares, highlighting the sense of fulfillment derived from giving back to his hometown.

Engaging with young people feels natural to Mondragon, who is rooted in his own experiences of overcoming adversity within his family. He draws inspiration from his father’s activism and his family’s legacy of service, recognizing his role in continuing that tradition. “For myself, there’s not a lot of barriers being able to just connect with these kids because I really empathize with them and have that lived experience,” he says.

Despite the challenges inherent in his work, Mondragon remains steadfast in his commitment to empowering young people. “I love breaking down walls of stigma,” he affirms, urging others to embrace their potential and challenge all education and opportunity barriers.

In sharing his story, Mondragon offers not only insight into the vital role of community support workers, but he’s also a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring spirit of service within the community of Taos.