Raul Arroyo, WAEF scholarship recipient and soon to be senior at WSU studying Field Crop Management, began his passion for field work at a young age, "I was born and raised in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. I grew up surrounded by an amazing agricultural environment while I was living in Mexico with my family...therefore I started to develop a strong passion for the fruit industry at a very young age." Raul first moved to the United States (Wapato, WA) with his family when he was 12 years old and found the language barrier to be a challenge for him, "...I realized that the language was completely different-I was not able to understand a single word of English... after a couple months of living in Wapato, my family eventually convinced me to attend school in order to learn English." Raul attributes the decision to enroll in school in the United States as the reason he has two semesters remaining at WSU in the Field Crop Management Program, "...after learning about the Field Crop Management Program at Washington State University, it became clear to me that WSU was definitely the university I needed to attend to further my education."
Raul describes himself as someone with an "inquisitive nature" and enjoys learning new approaches in agriculture. He became very involved in research under the guidance of Dr. Sanguinet at WSU, an experience that has helped him shape his future,"[WSU] has given me the opportunity to better understand published work, determine my area of interest, and more importantly, it has given me a jumpstart in my career as a researcher... I have also learned valuable skills such as team work, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and project management." The opportunities at WSU seem to be endless for Raul, "Washington State University has offered me a lot of opportunities such as the opportunity to do undergraduate research, being part of the McNair Achievement Program and be a mentor for the Team Mentoring Program."
Raul has received WAEF scholarships for the past three years, an achievement that he has described as a blessing many times over. "As a first-generation college student, the opportunity to obtain an undergraduate degree is incredibly humbling and although my own motivation and drive have pushed me to be the best I can be, I owe part of my success to organization like WAEF that have helped make my goals more attainable and my obstacles less daunting. Thanks to WAEF scholarships, I have been able to worry less about how to pay for college and instead focus my attention in developing as a student."
Raul is currently working as a Post-Harvest Quality Control Intern with Stemilt this summer and intends to graduate in 2018 from WSU. It is a rare occurrence when a person knows from a young age what their career aspirations are, and it can be even more of a challenge as a first generation college student.
When asked what advice Raul has for other first generation students, he offered, "...look for help at the institution that you are attending as there is all kinds of help available to help you succeed academically and become a well-rounded student."
Congratulations on your success so far Raul! Thank you for sharing your story.