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Gear Up Wahluke

GEAR UP | Wahluke High School


We spoke with Wahluke High School graduates about their experiences in high school and how they were able to navigate life in college.  The panelists volunteered to share their stories.


Jessica share how she went from a small high school to large university...

Saul shares his career path and why he changed directions...

Elena shares how she overcame obstacles as an undocumented student...

Selena shares how she was able to stay in school...



Marleny shares her path to medical school...

Luis shares the importance of maintaining strong mental health...

Mayra shares why the Air Force was the best fit for her...

Gissell shares how her parents struggled with her college plans...




Jessica Arellano Cruz
Hometown: Mattawa, Washington
High School: Wahluke High School
College: Stanford University

Year in College: Senior Year
Major: Sociology & Chicano/Latino Studies, Honors in Education
Dream job: Providing quality, affordable, legal services to marginalized communities.
Jessica’s Places: El Centro Chicano y Latino, Hermanas de Stanford, Casa Zapata, classes that aligned with my interests
High School Places: Washington Technology Student Association (WTSA), Marching Band, VEX Robotics, Cross Country, Track and Field
First-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Jessica on Instagram: jessica_arellano_c, Facebook: Jessica Arellano-Cruz, Email:



Saul Ramos 
Hometown: Mattawa, WA
High School: Wahluke High School
College: Washington State University

Year in College: First-year master's student
Major: Mechanical Engineering now earning a Master's in Teaching

Occupation: Worked as an engineer for 2 years, currently studying to be a teacher.
Dream job: High school math/engineering teacher
Saul’s Places: Omega Delta Phi National Fraternity, Inc. , College Assistance Migrant Program, Student Ambassador, WSU SOLES/SHPE (Society of Latinx Engineers and Scientists/Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), WSU MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan), Intramural Basketball, Intramural Flag football, WSU Recreational Center

High School Places: Football, Basketball, Soccer, Track and Field, 400+ hours of Community Service, Catholic Church Group, ASB/Leadership, Math Tutor, Robotics Club, FFA, Key Club
First-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Saul on Instagram: @sramos_23




Elena Calderon
Hometown: Mattawa, Washington
High School: Wahluke High School
College: Eastern Washington University (undergrad and master's), University of Arizona (PhD in progress)
Year in College: 1st year of PhD program (4 year program)
Major: Bachelor of Science in Community Health, Master of Science in Communication Studies, PhD in Higher Education (Graduation 2025)
Occupation: Graduate Student, transfer student support specialist
Dream job: Professor, director of a multicultural program at a college, work with a scholarship foundation that serves students from minoritized backgrounds, higher education advocate
Elena’s Places: CIELO (Cultural and Inclusive Experiential Learning Opportunities)- through this program I was able to connect with the community in Tucson. They have a program called Feel Good Friday and I had the opportunity to help paint a mural within the community and also volunteer with a food bank. Transportation is provided for students. They also do larger programs during the year like 1-2 week programs in Puerto Rico or Hawai'i. My HED 696 course: Hispanic Serving Institutions and Funds of Knowledge. This class was a place where I found a community of friends. We worked with a community organization called Avenidas and we engaged in activities like community clean ups and sidewalk paint projects.
High School Places: Cheerleading, National Honor Society, Associated Student Body, Running Start (dual enrollment), worked part-time at a local gas station, track
First-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Elena: LinkedIn  Facebook  Email: 



Selena Prudente
Hometown: Mattawa, WA
High School: Wahluke High School
College: University of Washington
Year in College: Graduated in 2021
Major: BA in American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Diversity, Master in Communication in Communities & Networks (2024)
Occupation: HR & DEI Program Coordinator, Part-time Starbucks Barista
Selena’s Places: Instructional Center (IC), Undergraduate Diversity Services (UDS), Association of Latino Professional For America (ALPFA), Kappa Delta Chi, Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC), Unidas Seremos, Latinx Student Commission, First Gen Business Leaders, Building Networks, Study Abroad
High School Places: Volleyball, ASB, Wrestling, FBLA, Barista
First-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Selena on Instagram: @selenna.21



Marleny Carmona
Hometown: Mattawa, WA
High School: Wahluke High School
College: Washington State University for undergraduate and Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine for doctorate of medicine degree.
Year in College: Graduated May 2022
Major: Biology

Occupation: Doctor of family medicine
Dream job: Program Director for Family Medicine Residency Program
Marleny’s Places: College Assistance Migrant Program, Louise Stoke Alliance for Minority Participation, Team Mentoring Program, Classes: During or after hard classes I would approach people I thought I could be friends with and ask if they wanted to study together. Chicanx/Latinx center on the fourth floor of the CUB, Church, I would take fitness classes like volleyball and swimming and met some friends there due to common interests.
High School Places: volleyball, basketball, tennis, ASB, math team.
First-generation student: Yes
Reach out to Marleny on Instagram: @drmarlenycarmona 



Luis Cuevas
Hometown: Mattawa, Washington
High School: Wahluke High
College: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 

Year in College: Graduate
Major: Aeronautics 

Occupation: United States Air Force - Aircraft Fuel Systems Section Chief
Dream job: Airport Director
Luis’ Places: Resiliency techniques, Chaplain, Study Abroad opportunities.
High School Places: Football 4 years, Golf 3 years, Basketball 4 Years, Soccer 1 year, and Running Start program through Big Bend CC 2 years
First-generation student: Yes
Reach out to Luis by email:



Mayra Erazo Manfredi
Hometown: Mattawa, Washington
High School: Wahluke High School
College: Columbia Basin College (CBC), currently attending Granite State College online.
Year in College: Graduated CBC in 2006
Major: CBC Associates in General Studies, currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Operations Management
Occupation: United State Air Force
Mayra’s Places: League of United Latin American Citizens. An organization for Hispanic students. It made me find my place, and have new friends which made me enjoy going to college more.
High School Places: Soccer, Basketball, ASB President, and activities director. My junior year I participated in a pageant called Junior Miss.
First-generation student: Yes
Reach out to Mayra on Instagram: @mayra_manfredi



Gissell Torres Antunez
Hometown: Mattawa, WA
High School: Wahluke High School
College: University of Washington

Year in College: in Graduate School
Major: Master of Arts in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Occupation: Clinical Practicum student at Seattle Children’s Autism Center. I am a therapist for parent behavioral training and young kids on the spectrum.
Dream job: Licensed Mental Health Counselor (which is what I will be when I graduate!)
Gissell’s Places: Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (UW) & American Sign Language club

High School Places: ASB, Basketball
First-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Gissell:



New York Times bestselling author Harlan Cohen talks with current and recent students about life in college.  For more videos visit BeforeCollegeTV on YouTube.  For more information about Harlan Cohen visit him online at: or follow him on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tik Tok | LinkedIn | Snapchat (helpmeharlan).

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed by panelists and participants are their own and are in no way endorsed, officially affiliated, or representative of the institution, Harlan Cohen, or BeforeCollegeTV.  All views expressed on panelists social media are not endorsed or affiliated with Harlan Cohen and BeforeCollegeTV.  Students views, opinions, and advice are their own. ALWAYS contact official representatives to verify and validate any information provided