New EWU student trustee a good fit on many fronts
New EWU Board of Trustee member Francisco Navarro with his father, Francisco Sr.
If Eastern Washington University was looking for a student who might best possibly illustrate its mission to attract both first-ever college students, and minorities, it looks like he's been found in their newly appointed student representative to the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees.
Francisco "Frank" Navarro was named to replace Michael O'Donnell. His term began July 1 and will continue through June 30, 2015.
Navarro exemplifies so much. He's a first-generation college student and in fact was the first in his family to graduate from high school in Sunnyside, Wash.
His 3.7 GPA at Sunnyside earned him admission to college. But how to pay for it tempered that joy, he said. "That was very scary for me thinking 'Geeze, how am I going to pay for this?" Navarro said.
But Navarro's mailbox was full of good news in his senior year, first receiving word that he had been accepted to attend EWU, then a letter notifying him of a scholarship. "I thought it was going to be impossible for me to pay for college - my parents have always worked in the agricultural fields - there's not a lot of money to be made," Navarro said.
"That was quite exciting," Navarro said of receiving the scholarships.
Studying in computer science, Navarro said he's been motivated by technology since he was a kid. His success in college earned him additional money from Google and Microsoft.
Navarro, 23, came to the United State at age 14 from Mexico, joining his father, Francisco, Sr., mother Miriam and three siblings, sisters Alejandra and Idalia along with brother David.
The family initially worked in agriculture but since has moved into the food service business with restaurants, Carnitas Uruapan and Cocina Isabel, plus a fleet of taco trucks that frequent the Yakima Valley.
The path to the trustees appointment from Gov. Jay Inslee's office began when Navarro was elected as the executive vice president of the Associated Students of EWU. "I've always said I'm a man of service and public service and I really believe in mentorship and helping others," Navarro said.
As Navarro enters his senior year he wanted to put that service aspect of his life into motion. That was something his high school principal and counselor encouraged.
The BOT appointment was the perfect way to cap college for Navarro. He will graduate next June with a bachelor of science in computer science.
The application process begins in the spring and is followed by an interview and screening process. The next step is a phone interview with the office of the governor.
It wasn't long before he got a congratulatory phone call form the governor's office, followed by a letter acknowledging his selection.
"It's a very emotional time," Navarro said.
His parents were a little wary when they saw the letter, wondering what kind of trouble their son might have gotten into.
Navarro's focus on the BOT will include maintaining academic and financial accountability, and success, he said.
With his first generation and low-income roots, Navarro said he's well positioned. "I really understand what our students, our generation at Eastern Washington looks like."
"I really learned to appreciate the diversity we have here on our campus," Navarro said. "I wanted to be the student's voice."
Navarro said his story really illustrates how education can make a difference in one's life. "I would have worked in agriculture without that opportunity, I'd still be working there," he said. Instead, he hopes to some day work for Microsoft or Google, the two corporate giants who noticed, and rewarded him.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.