Saturday, December 10, 2016

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Judith James, '58, and Ingrid Medrano, '11. Medrano received the Russ and Judith James Endowed Scholarship Fund last year. Phot by  Hayley Roder. Judith James, '58, and Ingrid Medrano, '11. Medrano received the Russ and Judith James Endowed Scholarship Fund last year. Phot by Hayley Roder.

To Follow a Dream

Recent graduate Ingird Medrano overcame obstacles to succeed at SDSU.
By Mary L. Lawlor

“As a teacher, I have the power to change the future of a student — just with a smile,” said Ingrid Medrano, who recently completed the two-year Aquisition of Language and Academic Skills dual credential graduate program in San Diego State University’s College of Education.

During her time at SDSU, Medrano earned credentials in multiple subjects with a bilingual Spanish emphasis and mild/moderate special education with authorizations for severe emotional disturbance, autism, resource specialist and English language learners. 

Medrano accomplished these feats after earning a bachelor of arts in liberal studies over the course of four challenging undergraduate years during which she lost her mother, older brother and two grandmothers — all while putting herself through college after surviving bouts of homelessness and poverty.

Humble beginnings

When she was in sixth grade, Medrano, along with her parents and three brothers became homeless for several months in the border town of San Ysidro. 

During this time, she did not attend school, but remembers her little brother’s second grade teacher, Mrs. Andrade rescuing the family from their plight. 

Andrade helped the family find food and shelter and showed Medrano that being a great teacher includes having a generous heart.

This lesson had a significant impact on Medrano as she struggled through middle school. When she entered San Ysidro High School as a ninth grader, the encouragement of her mother and the memory of Andrade’s compassion for her family brought a revelation — she wanted to become a teacher. 

Her mother’s advice, “Use your mind instead of hard labor to make a better life,” spurred her to focus on her studies.  She found great success in high school, making the honor roll regularly and assuming leadership positions in clubs and organizations.

Higher education

When Medrano graduated from San Ysidro High School in 2007, she enrolled at SDSU taking advantage of ”Compact for Success,” a rigorous, guaranteed admission partnership between SDSU and the Sweetwater Union High School District. 

Medrano's goal was to go straight to a four-year university. She performed so well academically that she received scholarships and loans to help her with tuition, school supplies and living expenses. 

Medrano's undergraduate years were difficult ones. She lived at home and rode the trolley to school, a two-hour trip each way. She devoted herself to her studies and was recognized for these accomplishments with placement on the dean’s list. 

She also joined the Student California Teachers’ Association where she held two officer positions and enjoyed a variety of community service activities.

Special needs

Medrano's oldest brother was a special needs student. He taught her patience and flexibility as she saw the impact of his disability.

This influenced her decision to enter the Aquisition of Language and Academic Skills program. Her brother died of a long-term illness during her tenure at SDSU. 

Her current philosophy is to keep her education at the forefront of her pursuits and find happiness with the simple things in life.  Through volunteer work and student teaching, Medrano already has 13 years of field experience in grades K-8 at public, charter, dual immersion, and Juvenile Court schools. She enjoys witnessing students having “aha” moments when they learn new skills.

Medrano believes a teacher has to “connect with every single student on a personal level so they know you care.  Once they know you care, they will care about what you teach, which leads them to care about their own education.”

In appreciation of the people who have helped her attain the success she has reached in her educational career, Medrano hopes to secure a teaching position in the community where she grew up.

She wants to help students who may endure financial difficulties or family situations that cause them to lose faith in themselves, to change lives of disadvantaged students and inspire them to be leaders and build better lives.

She also wants to serve as a role model as a former English language learner who learned English, leadership, perseverance, determination, kindness and ingenuity.

With her positive attitude and optimism for the future, Medrano will do it all with a smile.