Starting an Adventure
When our team thinks of staying focused even in the midst of chaos, we think of Sofia Cordero.
Sofia moved to the United States ten days before Washington State started to close due to the pandemic. Talk about a big first hurdle. She was faced with the choice: stay and focus on school or move back to Columbia. She decided to stay, fguring it out as she went.
“I didn’t even have a computer. I thought, ‘I’ll get a computer when I need it,’” Sofa said. When all of her courses went online suddenly, it turned out she needed one ASAP.
A virtual learning environment wasn’t exactly what Sofia had in mind when she decided to move the roughly 4,000 miles to attend college at Spokane Falls Community College’s Pullman center. She’d picked SFCC – Pullman for a few reasons: she wanted to study English, she wanted to experience a small town with a college vibe, and she wanted to start at a community college to save money while immersing herself in the college experience. Suddenly, she was looking at being isolated from that college experience.
“It was hard in the beginning,” Sofa said. “But I got used to it.”
What was really hard was being away from her family. “The Colombian economy has struggled since COVID-19, and my family had a hard time stretching things to help me.”
To make sure she could stay in school, Sofia got a part-time job working on a dairy farm.
“I took the first thing I could find, even though I didn’t have any experience with animals,” Sofia explained.
Talk about making things work! Suddenly she was either working from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., or she’d start her shift at 3:00 a.m. The work was hard and it created more isolation for Sofia. She was either studying or working, and she had no time to do anything social, even virtually.
That’s when the Foundation stepped in to help. Sofia received a scholarship, and some of the pressure came of of her shoulders.
“You don’t know, as an international student, what’s happening in your country or if your parents can help you. It’s not a definite that you’ll be able to stay,” Sofia explained. “So when I got fnancial help, it was a way to reassure myself that I didn’t have to worry so much about tomorrow and next month. It gave me a lot of peace.”
Now, it’s all about balancing her classes, work, and extracurriculars. Sofia graduated from SFCC with her associate’s last spring. She’s currently working on her transfer requirements to attend Washington State University for neurological sciences.
“I think the human brain is just amazing!”
She hopes to go into research someday, working in a health department or hospital. She’s interested in working with kids and loves to teach, so she hopes she can connect all of her interests.
Finally getting to have the college experience she’d been interested in has been tricky, but great.
“I focus on my priorities. I need to work to afford to study, but studying is why I’m here! So I study the majority of the time, work if I can, and do extracurriculars on the side.”
Sofia is involved in student government at Pullman Campus, and it’s been so rewarding. She loves engaging with students and being able to support her peers. She especially loves sharing her culture and learning about other students’ cultures. It was one of the things her parents were excited about for her to attend school at SFCC. Soon, she’ll be the frst in her family to graduate from college and she’ll start her adventure at WSU.
One thing we can be sure of: no matter what tries to get in her way, Sofia will accomplish her goals.
“Eventually I’ll get to live my dream and help others in my career.”