We at Oregon Campus Compact are pleased to welcome Lupita Méndez, our new College Access & Communications Program Manager. Lupita will develop and implement the newly created and still evolving AmeriCorps College Access Corps, as well as working with K-12 partners in the AmeriCorps Connect2Complete program and managing communications for ORCC.
We asked her to share the experiences that brought her to Oregon Campus Compact and her hopes going forward.
I am so thrilled to be joining ORCC this month, coordinating and supporting the College Access Corps and Connect2Complete AmeriCorps programs. As I think about my hopes and goals for these programs, there is a statement that keeps coming to mind that I have heard attributed to Paul Gorski: “Just because a student of color (or first generation student, or LGBTQ student, etc…) scores high on a standardized test or graduates with a 4.0 GPA, does not mean that they experience school as equitable or just."
This always rings true to me on both a professional and personal level. I grew up poor in rural Oregon and was lucky to have adults in my life who inspired and encouraged me to stay excited about education, but it was a difficult journey for me and I watched the educational system fail many of my peers and family members.
I have brought this equity lens into my previous roles, such as coordinating programs at the Portland State University Queer Resource Center and the Portland Community College Multicultural Center. I am excited to bring it into my work with the CAC and C2C members and their programs.
My hope is that these amazing AmeriCorps members will build programming that both gives marginalized students the tools to succeed and also examines underlying systems of inequity and injustice.
I am a huge believer in the value of community-based learning and I am committed to ensuring that this year of service is also a time of professional development and personal growth for our AmeriCorps members. I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in southern Oregon as a young adult, and that year of service stands out in my memory as one of the best learning experiences I’ve had.
In fact, it inspired me to pursue a masters degree in community-based social work so I could continue learning about social justice issues and community organizing. I hope that the CAC and C2C members will gain the same rich learning experience that I did and that it will support their development as leaders and social change agents.