Bachelor of Applied Science in Teacher Education
After graduating from Wapato High School in 2010, Esteban Vela bounced between jobs at a dental office and a warehouse.
Wanting more for his future, Vela’s eye turned toward the field of education. He began working as a para-educator for the Yakima School District, while continuing to earn extra income as a farmworker.
Vela took the next step in his professional aspirations in 2015 when, after seeing the higher education successes of his older brother and younger sister, he turned to Yakima Valley College to prepare for a new career as a teacher. Vela enrolled in YVC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Teacher Education (BAS-TE) program, which caters to working adults who, like Vela, are looking for an affordable pathway to earn their degree.
“I went to YVC because it was close to home and it gave me the opportunity to still work and go to school at the same time. YVC was very flexible with my work schedule,” stated Vela.
With classes held during the evening, Vela could work in the mornings and then attend classes twice a week.
“I was still able to have a steady income without taking any loans out,” he said.
While working and earning his degree at the same time wasn’t always easy, Vela said he had the support of family members who helped push him to continue.
“I had a very strong support system with my family and friends and they always encouraged me to never give up,” he said.
Vela graduated in June 2020 and currently teaches 3rd grade at Wapato School District. He noted that motivation provided by faculty and staff at Yakima Valley College was essential in helping succeed.
“I don’t think I would have been successful without YVC’s program. Yes, there are online programs, but I am more of an in-person learner,” Vela said. “The staff has been a huge help in my career life. The staff worked hard to help [students] find a job when we graduated.”
In the future, he hopes to advance into leadership roles for a school district and provide support to underprivileged students.
“My ultimate goal is to become a superintendent for a school district and change the community for the better. Being hired on in a school district that has a high level of poverty and is high in English language learner (ELL) students, I know I can make a big impact in helping support these students so they can become successful.”