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#FellowshipFriday – Meet Karen Romero Estrada!

#FellowshipFriday – Meet Karen Romero Estrada!

I believe that we are stronger when we are united, and a service year program, such as the Great Oaks Fellowship, allows people from different walks of life to unite and support one another.

Karen Romero Estrada

Why do you feel it’s important to commit a year of service at Great Oaks Charter Schools?

Committing a year of service at GOCS means a lot to me personally. Through education, I was able to liberate my mind and begin my journey in consciousness, critical thinking, and mindfulness of self and the world. I serve because I want to eradicate all barriers that people from disadvantaged communities face. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, I encountered many educational barriers and met people who didn’t believe in me. Yet, I had parents who knew this would occur and they made their children’s education a highest priority. Having supportive parents, along with a few mentors who believed in me, motivated me to strive for and finish college even when it felt impossible. Now, I hope to be able to foster empowerment, motivation and provide support for students at Great Oaks.

What education-related advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

While grades are an important measure of a student’s progress in school, it does not indicate intelligence or define you, and I wished I would have known that as a teenager. I would tell myself to focus on the learning process, to focus on the concepts that are taught in the classroom, and that it’s okay to make mistakes. In other words, mistakes do not mean failure, it is a part of the learning process and that is how we grow as people.

How would you encourage someone who might be considering an Americorps service year program, such as the Great Oaks Fellowship?

To begin with, I commend anyone who considers an AmeriCorps year program. Dedicating a service year means that you will be open-minded, willing to grow, to understand and learn from the communities you will be serving. Anyone who serves should be aware of their position in society, their privileges, their identities and how those factors will play into the communities that they will be going into. This way, AmeriCorps service members can create genuine and meaningful relationships while not perpetuating a savior complex. Overall, I believe that we are stronger when we are united, and a service year program, such as the Great Oaks Fellowship, allows people from different walks of life to unite and support one another.

Who is a memorable mentor in your life and what would you say to them today about the impact they had on you?

Denisse from the Tiger Woods Foundation. Denisse worked endlessly to guide me through the college application process, introduced me to many different colleges that I had no idea existed, and coached me through my decision-making process. Although Denisse is not the only one from the foundation that provided support, I really connected with her because she is a Latina woman from a similar socioeconomic and cultural background as me. I am thankful for the support she gave me, for introducing me and then encouraging me to attend my now alma mater, Occidental College, and for the love she gave me throughout my undergraduate college career.