A Special Thanksgiving Day StoryJennifer Witherbee
With your help, WAEF students are realizing life-changing achievements. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and with our appreciation, we wanted to share one of those heroic stories with you.
Jaqueline Velazco became a WAEF student in 2017 while a freshman at Washington State University. Following in her brother’s footsteps, she proved herself to be a capable student advancing each year. Her family has always been important to her, and she felt a responsibility to take advantage of the opportunity she had been given to attend college. Because, as she said, so many others that don’t get to attend college would love that opportunity.
In her junior year of college Jaqueline shared with one of our volunteers during her renewal interview that she would be having her first child at the end of the school term. Actually, her due date would hit during finals week. She was concerned about this might impact her scholarship.
WAEF staff got the call and were able to quickly rally around to assist her. We make inquires about childcare and provided encouragement to her. Jaqueline arranged with her college professors to allow her to take her finals early and her precious girl, Lailani, was born to her and her husband Daniel.
Her family is a strong motivator to her, “My older brother was the first in the family to attend college and then I was, but my parents only made it to middle school when they were young. They always motivated my siblings and I to keep pushing and to go to school so we can have a career we are actually happy. They always reminded me that it would be worth it in the end and that things don’t come easily, but it will all soon pay off.”
While her parents helped get her into college, her daughter and husband helped push her through her final year of college. “Even after I had my daughter during my last year of college, I never gave up. Instead, she only pushed me more to finish strong and get my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Honestly, I don’t speak about it much and everyone looks at me as someone who was able to go to college, work, and attend her husband, but it wasn’t as easy as it seems. I definitely got post- partum depression after having my daughter. That was very difficult for me. However, I am thankful that I always had a great support system like my parents, my brothers, and my husband who always pushed me to continue.”
Jaqueline was also driven by her goal to be a schoolteacher, “There were always people who believed in me, and always wanted me to succeed and that definitely motivated me. I chose teaching ever since I was in high school because I always wanted to make an impact on children’s lives. I wanted to work with kids whose lives I can relate to. I wanted to work specifically with low-income, migrant farm working family children, and children who didn’t grow up with English as their first language. Now, I am so happy that I can work with these children. Teaching is so rewarding and I know each day students take something new from what I said that day. I love when we can make life connections, talk about the real world, prepare them for the future, give them the best advice, or simply just give them a safe space in my classroom.”
Jaqueline’s family works at Broetje Orchards/First Fruits and she got the experience to grow up on the farm. She credits some of her drive to complete college to the farm’s youth program, “During the summers they let us work part-time in the farms thinning apples or cleaning out refrigeration rooms where the apples were kept so it can help us value education and value everything our parents do for us each day.”
Jaqueline shared about the influence she wants to have in her family, “The aspirations that I have for my family is for my daughter to never give up and fight hard for her own dreams. I will always support her choices and what she wants to do in life as long as she always keeps going and does something that makes her happy. As for my husband, he is already a diesel mechanic, but I know he aspires to be a supervisor one day with his own shop and I hope one day he can reach those goals. I will always support him just as much as he supported me through my college career.”
To WAEF donors and volunteers Jaqueline shares, “WAEF definitely helped me by always having people who showed they actually cared about my education. I loved getting phone calls and asking about my work or my school. I enjoyed getting care packages in the midst of finals. I really liked that WAEF always believed in me. I like that WAEF truly wanted me to succeed and they gave me all the resources possible to help me reach my goals. The director always listened to me, helped me with whatever I needed, and truly cared about my education. I will always appreciate WAEF. It has been the best scholarship sponsor I’ve ever had. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to live my dreams now.”
Jaqueline is a third-grade teacher at Barbara McClintock STEM Elementary School in Pasco.
Today and every day, we appreciate the WAEF community filled with donors, volunteers and supporters that chose to make a difference.
Thank you! Our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season!