Cynthia Guitron will graduate in May with a degree in elementary education and a bilingual endorsement ready to teach young students in a dual-language program. Born and raised in Orofino, Idaho, Guitron is the first in her family to attend college in the United States – but not the first person in her family to earn a university degree. “My mom received a doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico,” said Guitron. “After my mom graduated and my parents decided to move to the United States for a better life, they found out her degree wasn’t valid in the U.S. and she never got to practice or use her degree here.”
Originally, Guitron planned to study dentistry like her mom, but she realized her dream was to become a teacher. As a sixth grader and the only Spanish speaker at her school in Orofino, Guitron was tasked with helping a new student who was learning English as a new language with translation and classwork. The experience of trying to help a student learning a new language while she was in school herself made Guitron realize how important formally trained multilingual educators are. Boise State stood out from Guitron’s college choices because of the bilingual education degree program. “When I found out bilingual education was a possibility, it just felt like the perfect way for me to use my bilingual skills in a positive way so that I could be the person to help all English language learners.”
Even though she opted to stay in-state for college at Boise State, Guitron was the first person in her family to move more than 45 minutes away from Orofino or to live on campus, an experience that was initially hard to adjust to. “At first, I didn’t know what to expect and it was really hard to cope living so far from my family for the first time,” said Guitron. However, the support she received from the TRIO Teacher Prep and TRIO Rising Scholars programs in the Center for Multicultural and Educational Opportunities housed in the College of Education, helped her to thrive, including direct support from her TRIO Teacher Prep advisor Adriana Veloza.
Ultimately, Guitron’s story as a first-generation American college student served as the inspiration behind her drive to succeed and receive her diploma. “Being first-generation pushed me to want to keep going and be the first person in my family to finish.”
Guitron was also featured last fall when she nominated Orofino teacher, Annette Haag, for a 2020 Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching.