A shy freshman, Eder Mondragón Quiroz came to Oregon State a week early his freshman year to participate in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).
Little did he know at the time, that week would impact almost every move he made during his college career.
He opened up, made life-long friends and got involved.
“You get to hang out together before you ever start college, and develop a close-knit family away from home,” Mondragón Quiroz said of his cohorts in the program.
Mondragón Quiroz was also thrilled to be able to meet professors during that week he said he wouldn’t have met otherwise.
One professor and mentor, Susana Rivera-Mills, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts, said Mondragón Quiroz was reluctant to participate in her classes at first.
“However, I could tell the first few times he spoke up in class that he had an amazing insight into the issues we were discussing,” Rivera-Mills said. “This was verified in his writing assignments, where he shared more about his personal experiences, culture, history and background.”
After finishing his bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Psychology two years ago, Mondragón Quiroz decided to stay at Oregon State to earn a masters degree in contemporary Latino/Latina studies. His relationships with his professors as well as other students, he said, made that decision an easy one.
As a graduate teaching assistant, Mondragón Quiroz said he has come to respect his professors in a whole new way.
“Being a very introverted and shy person, it was interesting to get thrown into the classroom and expected to teach a first-year Spanish course,” Mondragón Quiroz said. “ Teaching has given me insight into everything professors do to help their students succeed. It makes me thankful for everything they did for me.”
That thankfulness inspired Mondragón Quiroz to begin giving back to the Oregon State community through the CAMP program, where he mentored incoming students.
“I was involved with helping them navigate the University system, showing them where resources were so they could find their way,” Mondragón Quiroz said.
He said he believes his bicultural understanding will help him better serve the whole community. He hopes to earn a PhD in the future.
His ambition has inspired his community, and even his family members. Several cousins have followed Mondragon Quiroz to Oregon State. He hopes that with support form programs like CAMP, more will follow.
“I think there’s a big need for people that come from my background,” Mondragón Quiroz said.
His mentors agree.
“I’m so proud of the person Eder has become,” Rivera-Mills said. “I hope he will continue his education into a doctorate program and become a community leader that advances important conversations and contributes as an engaged citizen to the communities he will serve.”