Yesenia Lázaro was a part of the 2010-2011 CAMP cohort at Columbia Basin College. Although it seems like it has been a long time since she was a CAMP student, she remembers some of the great times she had while she was in CAMP. She shares that her favorite memory was when she went to the Northwest CAMP Consortium with CAMP programs from different universities throughout the Pacific Northwest and meet other CAMP students. This made her realize that her CAMP familia extends beyond just one university, city or state. Some of her favorite memories from the consortium were the friendly competitions that allowed her to create connections with her CAMP familia. These are connections that have lasted until now. It was also a great time to meet a lot of people with the same or similar majors and give each other advice.
An advising tip that Yesenia has for those CAMP students wanting to pursue her same major, Psychology, is to know that there are many avenues you can go with that degree, that you don’t always have to become a psychiatrist or a counselor. As psychology builds a foundation to understand how to work with others, as well as behaviors, mental health, and overall well-being. These are skills that everyone is hoping to find in the people with whom they work.
Yesenia decided to complete an undergraduate degree in Psychology because she wanted to build a foundation that helped to understand how to better work with others. After her completing her bachelor's degree, she pursued a Master's in Public Administration. The advice she feels called to share is to know that you can always change your major after your bachelor's, especially if you are doing Psychology because there are many options to pursue a different degree after completing a Bachelor's degree. Another piece of advice she has if you are looking into Public Administration is that it consists of a lot of working with cities, government and regulations. She advises that anyone working in higher positions should be educated in Psychology or Human Development to be able to understand what is best for everyone collectively and not just for yourself as an individual. It helps you understand people’s needs and teaches you to be more humble, vulnerable, and compassionate.
Yesenia notes that something that Universities should know about CAMP and CAMP students is that our student population is intelligent, unique, smart, and very diverse. CAMP students come from humble backgrounds, with so much passion and excitement to learn and to give back to the community. She always highlights that their unique experiences provide them with the tools to succeed in life. Everyone should know that they are the people you want to have in your job and future leadership positions.
Yesenia also makes an important point by sharing that "many people in higher positions pay more attention to statistics and how some students do in their first year of college, without taking into consideration that CAMP students have a completely different background than students with more privileges." Therefore, they need adequate support to guide them into this new world and that’s where CAMP staff comes into the picture, to help them succeed in a new environment. It is not as simple as saying “here is some money, here is a tutoring lab, do whatever you want”, It is about taking more time with these students that have had a rough upbringing and offering leadership, guidance and a familia away from home.
Yesenia wants everyone to know that CAMP staff truly believes in all their students and they don’t question their power. As she mentions that these students came in with additional struggles that others didn’t and they are still are able to push through, they got the power and potential to accomplish anything and they just need to be reminded of the potential they have.
As an undergrad, Yesenia felt that CAMP surrounded her with others that related to her experiences. Her CAMP experience helped her to get through those difficult days where she didn’t feel like she fit in. There were times when she was one of only a few brown students in her other classes, “my CAMP familia allowed me to feel more accepted, we all had the same background and if they were overcoming something, an experience or other, I knew that I could also get through it. We were all succeeding together.” She shares that her CAMP familia was a group that was welcoming and bilingual and that she didn’t have to hide important aspects of herself, such as being able to speak Spanish and using her cultural background to feel more connected to her roots and home.
Lastly, Yesenia would love for everyone that is thinking about applying to CAMP to do it. CAMP has the tools to help all students succeed. “There are many bumps on the road, but when you are part of CAMP you are no longer falling over and getting lost. With CAMP, you have the opportunity to overcome and handle obstacles and challenges. You learn that there will be many people and opportunities waiting for you on the other side to offer you their support, and in the long run, you’ll realize that the challenges were preparing you to reach your goals."