YVC Announces the 2019 All-Washington Academic Team Members
Christina Escobar & Lahoma Doublerunner
Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley College is proud to announce Christina Escobar and Lahoma Doublerunner have been named members of the 2019 All-Washington Academic Team. They will be honored at the annual reception in Olympia on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at South Puget Sound Community College. The reception will feature a keynote address by Governor Jay Inslee.
Christina Escobar was born in Yakima and grew up in Tieton, WA. Following high school, she searched for ways to serve her community, looking for areas where her passion for helping others could be utilized. When she learned she was pregnant, she put everything on hold, preparing to welcome her daughter. The birth of her first daughter brought great joy, but also tremendous stress. Her daughter was only six days old when she received her first medical diagnosis. The next several years brought additional, often rare conditions. Escobar was unable to work as she cared for her daughter, making frequent trips to Seattle to ensure she received the best possible care. Eventually her daughter’s condition stabilized. Escobar began work as a bartender at night while her daughter slept.
“My daughters motivate me to succeed in all aspects of life. I strive to always be the best version of myself for their sake. Ayvah, my eldest child, endures incredibly rare diagnoses, PKU, Autisum, XP22.31 and epilepsy. As a result of being her mother, and raising her alone, I have learned love, patience and have found my strength,” stated Escobar.
In 2011, she began working as an AmeriCorps Military Liaison for the American Red Cross. In 2012 Escobar had and experience that would forever influence her life. That summer much of the forestland in Washington State was devastated by fire. Escobar created an environmental reforestation program called Operation Lorax. The project helped children learn about forest fires and participate in the restoration process. When Operation Lorax won a national Grant from Newman’s Own and USA Weekend Magazine, she used the grant money to purchase flags for a military memorial at Flagpole Park in Cle Elum, WA.
During this time, she also pursued her education at YVC. Each time she got started, a personal struggle would prevent her from continuing with her plans. Three times, she began her studies, and three times she was devastated when she had to drop out. In the summer of 2017, she made herself a promise that she would earn a degree. As a single mother of two daughters and working full-time at night, it has been a struggle, but Escobar has continued to be successful and has placed on the President’s List each quarter.
Still wanting to continue to serve her community, she is currently working with Phi Theta Kappa to build a partnership with The Union Gospel Mission, to service the Family Services Shelter program. The goal is to help provide products and essentials to the shelter for families in need. “I have gained the realization that volunteering my time and energy is the greatest feeling in the world. I have recognized that more than receiving services or aide, people simply seek to know that they are not forgotten in their times of need.”
She graduates with her associate in arts transfer degree this spring. In the fall, she plans to transfer to Central Washington University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature.
A member of the Yakama Nation Tribe, Lahoma Doublerunner was born in Yakima and has lived her entire life on reservation lands near Wapato, WA. After graduating from high school in 2001, Doublerunner began working at Legends Casino, first in Human Resources and later in the Table Games Department as a dealer. When she became pregnant with her son in 2014, she had complications, which required her to spend the majority of her time on bedrest, ultimately unable to continue working. After her son’s birth, she returned to work a series of retail jobs, ultimately returning to Legends Casino. She quickly realized she would need additional education to provide a good income for her family.
“I am what you call a front-line employee because as a blackjack, roulette, and craps dealer. That subjects me to working nights, weekends, and holidays. Being a single mother, I quickly realized the hardships of working the casino night shift schedule. This is when I made the decision to continue my education,” stated Doublerunner.
In the spring of 2017 she enrolled at Yakima Valley College. Her unique experience working in the casino made her interested in pursing a transfer degree in business administration. She has been very successful in her coursework, maintaining a 3.78 GPA. In addition, she maintains two jobs, one as a dealer for Legends Casino and the second as an office assistant for Catholic Charities, where she works for the volunteer services program that coordinates volunteers to do chore work for lower-income elders and disabled adults.
On campus she has appreciated the knowledge and respect given to her by her advisors and instructors.
She is especially grateful for the opportunity to take courses with Dr. Wallace Strong. She states, “As a member of the Yakama Nation, it was a joy and pleasure to be able to take two Ethnic Studies courses with Tribal Elder Dr. Wallace Strong. For one of these courses I had to do a class project that had to do with my identity and I was able to do research on my family. It was amazing to learn that one of my ancestors, Antoine Miller, was a student at the first Native American boarding school in the country. It was also a somber lesson of what my ancestors endured because they lived differently compared to the white Christian. Recently, I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in Dr. Strong’s course to a case the Yakama Nation has with the United States Supreme Court, having to do with our sovereignty, which the Treaty of 1855 guarantees, and tax issues with the State of Washington.” Doublerunner relates another story of seeing the Chairman of the Yakama Nation denied access to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court hearing because he refused to remove his traditional headdress, writing: “It wasn’t until one morning I was braiding my three year old son’s long hair that it dawned on me: the United States Government back in the 1800’s tried to demoralize my people by ripping them of their beliefs and say that we could wear and not wear. In 2018, they are still trying to tell us how to dress and how to act accordingly as a United States citizen. After this realization, I was able to post my feelings on the Yakama Nation Tribal members’ page. I believe that I was able to share the knowledge that was given to me in my American Ethnic Minorities course.”
Doublerunner graduates this spring with an associate in business degree. She hopes to transfer to the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. After earning a bachelor’s degree she plans to return to the area and become a leader within the tribe.
The All-Washington Academic Team program recognizes and honors our state’s finest higher education students. The students who make up the All-Washington Team reflect the diversity of the state, maintain high standards of excellence, and contribute positively to the community. The program has become the showcase for Washington’s community and technical colleges because it honors the academic high achievers, the men and women who have demonstrated a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live. This recognition demonstrates the state’s commitment to scholarship and community service on the part of those attending the state’s public community and technical colleges. To qualify for the All-Washington Academic Team, students must be part of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society for two-year colleges.
Each All-Washington team member will receive a Phi Theta Kappa medallion and a $250 scholarship from KeyBank. This year the YVC Foundation has offered a matching scholarship award of $250 to YVC’s nominees. In addition, the top-qualifying students will also receive scholarships from Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) and the Washington State Association of College Trustees. Additionally, those students who choose to attend Washington State four-year colleges and universities are eligible to receive additional scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $12,000.