Jonny Zuniga

Engineering Transfer Track
Land Survey & Construction Design

First generation student Jonny Zuniga was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. The son of farmworkers, Jonny graduated from White Swan High School in 2012. Not yet committed to pursuing higher education, he began working alongside his parents in the agricultural fields, later transitioning to warehouse work. The physical toll of these jobs made Jonny realize that he wanted more. He reached out to YVC to see what his options might be. In the fall of 2016 he enrolled pursuing a degree in Engineering.

“I’ve always been interested in Engineering,” states Zuniga. “Math has always been interesting and has come easier to me than subjects such as English. I’ve really enjoyed all aspects of YVC’s Engineering program. The faculty have been great and it has been wonderful being able to get to know my instructors/mentors outside of the classroom,” he continued.

Zuniga was selected to participate in YVC’s undergraduate research projects. These projects are made possible by a science, technology, engineering, and math grant through the United States Department of Education. YVC works in partnership with Heritage University to offer this opportunity to students. He worked with YVC Engineering Instructor Kevin Carlascio to research the flooding in the Cottonwood Area of West Valley. He has also had the chance to participate in two internship programs while also working on his coursework. His first internship was working with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Kennewick. He later worked with Washington State Department of Transportation in Union Gap. These opportunities have helped him realize how much he enjoys the surveying aspect of engineering. He states, “YVC’s program coursework and the undergraduate research and internships have really helped give me a perspective on the different aspects of the engineering field. It covers everything from surveying to CAD.” He has also been able to volunteer what he has learned to help the community, by participating as a surveying assistant looking into the effects of the Rattlesnake Ridge and helping to assess the possibility of a landslide.

To help pursue his studies Zuniga has received financial support from the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), NEST program, and YVC Foundation. In addition, he was selected by WSOS to serve as a scholarship lead. In this role he helps mentor first year students. Outside the classroom he has worked in YVC’s Tutoring Center and served as the secretary for YVC’s Engineering Club.

Zuniga graduates in June 2020. He plans to transfer to a four-year university in Washington state and pursue a bachelors degree.