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Our Students, Our Inspiration!

Dear donors and supporters,

Throughout the year, we invite students and alumni to share their Hartnell story. Those moments are always special to me because I too have a Hartnell story as an alumna and now as a doctorate student about to defend my dissertation at USC. Just like you, I strive to motivate and inspire men and women to follow their dreams. It is also okay to ask for help in the process and to take advantage of the support system built for student success. 

We start a series of testimonials with Andrea Cervantes who gave a compelling “I AM” speech to faculty and staff. You will be amazed by her story. Support like yours allows students, even those under difficult circumstances, to have a voice and hope for the future.

With appreciation,

Jacqueline Cruz
Vice President of Advancement and Development
Executive Director, Hartnell College Foundation
(831) 444-2446 mobile

Andrea is making lemonade out of lemons

On August 25, 2023, Hartnell College Foundation hosted the Achieving the Dream Rally. Students and alumni spoke of the significant difference the support of donors makes in their lives.  

Alumna Andrea Cervantes delivered the “I AM” speech to the audience of staff and faculty. She shared how Hartnell gave her everything she needed to succeed in life and in her career. 

Cervantes, 28, graduated from Hartnell College with an associate’s degree in Communication Studies in 2015. She transferred to CSU Monterey Bay and completed her bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Communication and a minor in Law Studies in 2018.

“Law school has always been on my mind,” she said. “But at the time of graduation, I found that I could not afford it.”

She decided to complete her certification to become a paralegal at the CSUMB Advanced Education Program. She finished just this April and now works for an attorney as their paralegal.

“I am getting hands-on experience now but my goal of becoming an immigration attorney is still alive,” she said.

For Andrea, the journey has been bumpy. Her parents brought her to the United States when she was 13. When she got ready to attend college, she found out that financial aid was not for those without legal immigration status – like her.

At Hartnell, she found the support she needed. Thanks to California legislation and scholarship programs in place, she was able to get an education and work on the campus. But she found much more than that.

“Hartnell changed my life – I don’t think I would be where I am if not for Dr. Jason Hough and the care he bestowed upon me, first as my communication instructor and then as my speech team coach,” she said.

She found that being part of the speech team was a blessing – a place where she belonged. 

Not having the immigration status nor having an outlet other than by marriage to get there weighs heavily on her. “It’s hard to compare my experience with someone who does not have that mental weight,” she said. “Every day I have to think about what if someone turns me in tomorrow – I have to constantly adjust my goals and dreams because of all the limitations I have.”

Nonetheless, Andrea continues to fight for herself and is appreciative of the law firm that is giving her a chance to work in this country as a contractor. She is paying it forward by mentoring her cousins and others, encouraging them to pursue an education at Hartnell College. Her wish is to continue to fight for what is right.

“I went into this field to be able to help people like me,” she said. “I will get there.”

What will your legacy be?

If you are thinking about naming the Hartnell College Foundation in your estate plans, contact either our Vice President of Advancement and Development/Executive Director for the Foundation, Jackie Cruz at or call (831) 444-2446, or our Director of Philanthropy, Kristine Edmunds at or by phone at (831) 755-6903. To make a gift in support of Hartnell students, go to: 

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