Rubio Family Makes College Possible

This spring a Brewster High School graduate will receive a special new WAEF scholarship. The Rubio Family scholarship is offered for the first time this year to graduates of Brewster High School. What makes this award so special is that it is funded by the family of some of our early scholarship recipients.

Natividad and Leticia Rubio have six children. As of last spring, all six of their children have graduated from college. With this impressive (and expensive) milestone behind them, they decided they wanted to help others in their community have the same opportunities their children received.

Mr. & Mrs. Rubio's driven children had strong role models in their parents. Mr. Rubio first began working in the US when he was a teenager. He made the trip from Mexico alone and found work in agriculture migrating from California to Washington with the crops. On a return visit to Mexico he met Leticia and convinced her to become his wife and return to the US with him.

Two of their children were born in Toppenish before the family decided to make Brewster their home in the 1980s where Mr. Rubio found work with Richard Thomason, a strong promoter of education.  Natividad's brother joined the family in Okanogan County to raise his family.

In 1987 the family purchased their home and planted a garden. "Rubio's Produce" was thus born creating an additional opportunity to earn income and involve the entire family in the growing and selling process. Rubio kids helped with various needs in the large garden's cultivation and participated in the family vendor booth at farmer's markets.

With hard work and dedication, Rubio's Produce has expanded from vegetables sold at the farmer's market to an operation that now includes 85 acres of apples and 15 acres of cherries packed by Chelan Fruit. "The garden is much smaller now as it requires so much labor," shared Mr. Rubio. He still continues to sell some produce at the Twisp Farmers Market and has continued farming 200 acres with Richard Thomason.

Brenda is the oldest of the Rubio kids and was the first to attend college. College first surfaced as an idea back when she was in the fifth grade tending the garden and imagining a different future. Having had the opportunity to attend school only until the second grade and his wife attending just through sixth grade, Mr. Rubio shared that it was initially hard to consider sending his daughter away to college but he knew it was important and part of why they raising their family in the US.

With Brenda paving the way, all five of the Rubio children followed. At one point the family had four children in college at the same time, three working on undergraduate degrees and one completing his masters.

When asked about why he believed his family was so successful academically, Mr. Rubio had thoughts to share: "It's important to stay involved with kids in school and show up at school activities and to their games. When you are too busy, you need to honestly explain what is going on but that you still believe in the importance of their education. Kids grades in high school are important."

With the youngest of the family's children, Emmanuel, completing his degree in fruit & vegetable management at WSU last spring, all of the Rubio children are busy on their career paths.

Brenda Cruz (36) graduated from Eastern Washington University and is now a nurse in Tri-Cities at the Providence Center of Congenital Heart Disease and a mom of three.

Enrique (35) graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from Eastern Washington University and is the director of production for TiLite a Permobil Company, also in Tri-Cities. He and his wife have three children as well.

Nate (33) is the human resources director for Washington Fruit & Produce farm locations. He has an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and a master's degree in business administration., both from Eastern Washington University. Nate lives in Moses Lake. He has volunteered with WAEF for the last five years.

Anali Hernandez (29) earned her teaching degree from Eastern Washington University and is a kindergarten teacher back in her home community of Brewster. She is currently working on her master's degree through Heritage University.

Omar (26) has a construction management degree from WSU and is currently a project manager at Hayden Homes in Spokane.

And Emmanuel (24) is utilizing his degree from WSU with Washington Fruit & Produce in Othello.

The Rubio family, now having grown to include mom, dad, six children, three spouses (also college graduates) and six grandchildren, still gathers in Brewster several times a year to celebrate holidays and special events. This spring they will all travel as a family to Hawaii, their first full family vacation.

Natividad and Leticia have advice for other first generation parents considering how to make college possible for their children, "It is not easy to do this on little money. Don't be nervous; it will work out. Get involved with your kids and have them get good grades in high school. It is possible."

"I think their family is a uniquely special success story.  It is a huge honor for WAEF to get to tell their story and help them provide opportunities to others. The commitment from the Rubio family to help others in a similar way their children were helped demonstrates how meaningful scholarships are to their recipients and their families," shared Rubio family friend and WAEF immediate past chairman Rachel Sullivan. "Our thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Natividad and Leticia Rubio for allowing WAEF to assist them with their desire to make a difference to others."