CWU Teacher Academies ambassador visits the White House

  • November 27, 2023
  • Rune Torgersen

What started as a decision to join Central Washington University’s Teacher Academy class at Lindbergh High School in Renton ended up taking Abner Ramos Navarro all the way to the White House.

Navarro, a third-year biology and Teach STEM major at CWU, was invited to attend the inaugural First-Generation College Student Day in Washington, D.C., based on his status as a first-generation student and degree of involvement with the community.

The November 8 event introduced the cohort of about 50 students to a panel of White House staff who, like them, were the first in their families to pursue higher education.

“It was all about showing us that we can go anywhere and do anything, no matter where we came from,” Navarro said. “It was empowering to be told, in no uncertain terms, that the sky is the limit.”

The panel included high-ranking government officials Steve Benjamin, Assistant and Senior Advisor to the President; and Viviann Anguiano, Director of Education for the White House Domestic Policy Council. The panelists shared stories about their careers and recounted the obstacles they had to overcome in order to be successful.

“It was really powerful to see somebody with my background working at the White House,” Navarro said. “Hearing about their struggles with some of the same hurdles I’ve encountered was incredibly motivating.”

Navarro initially discovered CWU through the Teacher Academies program, a partnership with school districts across Washington that gives high school students a head start on becoming teachers through hands-on classroom instruction and a university-level curriculum.

This rigorous approach to college preparation was just what Navarro needed to get started on his higher education journey, and he hopes to one day pass on the knowledge he’s gained to the next generation through the very same program.

“I hope to one day be teaching a Teacher Academies class to keep that cycle moving forward, because I know what a positive impact it had on me,” Navarro said. “My experience as a first-generation college student will help me better prepare those students for higher education, using all the knowledge I wish I had back then.”

Navarro currently works as an ambassador for Teacher Academies, coordinating tours for participants and mentoring students who need extra support to achieve their goals. The program has shown him that the best approach to finding the help you need is to stay inquisitive and accept what is offered.

“Resources are out there,” he said. “It can be intimidating to search for them, because you don’t even know where to look, but asking questions nonstop will open doors for you. The more questions you ask, the more doors you’ll discover.”


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Rune Torgersen

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