Harvard graduate teaches government at Eastfield College and helps students reach their goals by reminding them that it is never too late “nunca es demasiado tarde” [to go back to school].

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Cindy Castañeda)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Cindy Castañeda)

Where did you grow up?

“I grew up in Imperial Valley, California, which is on the border of California and Mexico. My dad was a migrant farm worker, and spanish is my first language. I learned English in school when my family moved from Mexico to El Centro where I started kindergarten.”

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You continued your education and earned a master’s and a doctorate degree. Tell me about that process.

“Around my junior year, I decided that I would study public policy in graduate school. I got a $30,000 Harry S. Truman Scholarship to go to graduate school. After I graduated from Harvard, I went to work for the Truman Foundation in Washington, D.C., where I really began to learn more about community colleges.”

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“After that, I obtained my master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago. While I was at home having children, I earned my doctorate in higher education with an emphasis on community college leadership from the University of North Texas.”

What would you tell older, returning students?

“It is never too late to go back to school. You can’t help getting older, but you can do something about growing more skilled, more educated or more competitive in the work marketplace. I also encourage returning students and those who have children or grandchildren at home to put their good grades on the refrigerator, just like they did for their kids. It sets a good example and emphasizes the importance of having pride in your work.”

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com