Thursday, May 1, 2014

Giving Back to the Community

Andrade will graduate from college in May 2014. 
ATLANTA, GA (PR) - As a teenager, after she immigrated from Peru to the United States, Adriana Andrade received lots of services and support from the Latin American Association. Now, at age 25 and about to graduate from college, Andrade is giving back to the nonprofit by working with teenagers enrolled in the LAA's after-school program at Cross Keys High School and motivating them to go to college.

Andrade is grateful for the support the LAA provided her, her mom and two younger brothers when they arrived from Puno, Peru, when she was 11. Early on, the LAA advocated on her behalf when she was in elementary school so that Andrade could attend the gifted students program, which at the time was denied to her because she did not speak much English.

"The LAA told the school that they had to challenge me, that I had a right to be in the gifted program," she said. "I was in gifted or AP programs for the rest of my student career after that. I owe that to the LAA."

At 15, she and her brothers attended summer camp at the LAA. "I loved it," she said. "We learned how to salsa dance. That summer, my brother learned how to do break dancing and dance Capoeira. His self-esteem came back. My siblings and I would dance with my mom at home. I had lost that part of my culture since moving here."

For the next two summers, Andrade participated in an LAA internship program that existed at the time where she was matched with paid office internships. One summer she worked for a German faucet manufacturer and the next she interned for a bank, learning everything from phone etiquette and filing skills to legal issues.

"The Latin American Association (LAA) would prepare us for the interviews, set up the interviews, drive us to them, wait for us and bring us back," she recalled. "Working in an office setting changed the perception of the things I wanted to do, the various types of jobs available for those who are bilingual. On my own, I would have never applied for an office job. I didn't know how to do that, being that no one in my family had done so due to the language barrier."

She added: "The LAA internships made me realize at an early age that I wanted to work in an office environment, and that there was a need for bilingual and bicultural employees."

Now a senior at Georgia State University and about to graduate with a double major in psychology and journalism-telecommunications, Andrade is on her way to fulfilling her career aspirations. She currently has a part-time job with Univision 34 Atlanta's community affairs department and recently started working with the Hispanic Heath Coalition of Georgia. Andrade will graduate summa cum laude in May and is planning, after paying off her student loans, to pursue graduate studies in bilingual communications and clinical mental health.

While in her last semester in college, Andrade has spent two afternoons a week interning at the LAA's after-school program at Cross Keys High School.

"I help the students with homework, prepare workshops and I talk to them," Andrade said. "I like to find out what motivates them, what their goals are. I tell them that they are responsible for themselves and that they are the drivers of their future."

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