AmeriCorps State member, Hailey Herrera, has made some big impacts within the Community Schools Initiative. One of them being her role serving as a College Coach within the MEC partnership at Palo Verde Magnet High School. Herrera is serving her second term as a College Coach and will soon be graduating from PVHS with offers from the University of Arizona, Oxford University, and the University of Hamburg.
When inquiring Herrera of her likely pursuits, she admits that UA has a big place in her heart and within her family. Growing up on the South side of Tucson, and in various places across the country, Herrera describes her journey to university as an experience that was both challenging and rewarding. She attributes her success to maintaining a solid foundation in community, living a healthy lifestyle, and a steady connection to family by looking up to her mother’s resilient story of being a first-generation college graduate at UC Berkeley. Her path has led her to personal interests in the fine arts and environmental studies. Outside of her AmeriCorps role, Hailey is also the president of Palo Verde’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).
As of now, Herrera has decided to take on the KEYS Internship program, a competitive STEM program hosted by the UA. There, she hopes to continue her interest in the Natural Sciences to utilize the communication skills she’s developed with AmeriCorps to advocate for the global environment, specifically for bears! She really loves bears.
Where are you from originally?
Tucson, Arizona. I grew up on the South side and moved around a lot from South Dakota and Colorado to Sierra Vista.
What are your passions? What do you enjoy doing?
I really enjoy advocating healthy living and education. I became a peer coach and career coach because I grew up with the mindset that education is important. I like advocating for that mindset.
My family influenced the idea of education. My Mom graduated from Berkeley. She grew up with people who looked down on education, her resilience influenced me and my sister. My Mom taught me that education can help you do anything!
I am President of HOSA, and I learn a lot about how the body works. I took anatomy and physiology and learned about how the body works. I noticed little things about the body and feel that physical and mental health are important.
What experiences in your younger years contributed to your interest in serving your community?
I spent my younger years moving around a lot. I learned life can be different for people in different places. I loved moving around. Sure, it was stressful, but I was thrown into new environments and feel increased sympathy for others and understanding that we all live different lives.
I grew up on the south side. We heard gunshots at the five in the morning, cats were missing. Living in that environment can be terrible, but you can make something better out of it. Moving around made me want to help others as I believe that we’re all connected. I believe that starting at Palo Verde with building community will ultimately trickle down and I can then give back.
What are your strengths and how do you get to use them in service?
Perseverance is my biggest strength. I use this everyday. At times when I needed to take on task, and wouldn’t necessarily have all the answers, but I know that I am building a community to fall back on.
Have any of the students you serve said something memorable to you in response to your service to them?
There was one fellow student, first semester. She was emotionally demolished and felt her hard work wasn’t going anywhere. The AP classes weren’t going to help her in college and she was uncertain about the future.
I explained to her that it was ok if you don’t know what you want to do, but the important thing was to accept the situation and sometimes the best things in life end up being things we didn’t expect.
She ended up getting a MLK scholarship. She said that because she understood that it was ok not to know what would happen next and she became comfortable with being uncomfortable.
What do you see yourself doing after AmeriCorps? How will what you are doing now in AmeriCorps serve you in your future goals?
I will hopefully be going to college. I would like to keep benefiting society through my work. I would like to rehabilitate species, probably bears, because I like Pandas a lot. AmeriCorps service has helped me because I am able to develop my communication skills.