brenda salgadoBrenda Salgado: Knowledge is Power

When Brenda Salgado moved to the United States from Honduras, continuing her education was her top priority. First, she enrolled in English as a second language classes at Centralia College East. Then she completed her GED. Finally, she started working toward her college diploma.

It was a lengthy list but Salgado was committed to her dream – even when the going got tough. “I had to start from scratch but I said, ‘I can do it,’” she recalled. “I believe I can reach goals and I want success.”

It wasn’t easy. There were both material and psychological hurdles to overcome. Once, Salgado found herself working on a test long after all her classmates had finished. “Everyone else had left,” she said. “I was the only one left.”

That’s when doubt really started to creep in.

When she showed up for class the following Monday, it was more out of curiosity than ambition. “I just wanted to see how badly I’d done,” she said.

To her surprise, the teacher pulled her aside to congratulate her on earning the highest score in the class. Salgado’s determination and hard work had paid off.

Looking back, she’s especially grateful for the Centralia College teachers who helped and encouraged her along the way. “All the time, the teachers believe in you,” she said. “They encourage us and give us the tools to succeed. They always support me. It doesn’t matter how long the journey is; I never feel alone.”

Now she’s moving on to the next phase of her plan – a Bachelor’s in Management. Her ultimate goal? A career in medical administration. “I believe I can help people in the medical field,” she said.

Salgado has inspired her four children to pursue higher education as well. Her eldest daughter graduated with her Master’s in Project Management and now works as an architect in Seattle. Her youngest daughter is currently studying chemistry and plans to become a physician’s assistant. Still in high school, her oldest son plans to become an engineer and her youngest son just enrolled in Centralia College Running Start. “I always told my kids that knowledge is power,” Salgado said. “My son said, ‘Mom we’re proud of you and we want to follow you. You reached everything and you show us we can make it too.’”

Salgado’s story proves anyone can accomplish their goals – no matter their background, hurdles or origin. “If you have a dream, you have to start right now,” she said. “Here at Centralia College, you will find the tools, you will find the support and you will find the motivation.”

As fall semester nears, Salgado continues to maintain focus on her goal. “I want to show my kids that if we have a dream, we can do it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many years it will take. The most important thing is to have courage, commitment and believe in ourselves. If we believe in ourselves, we can show other people they can reach goals too. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. We have the power to bring positive change and be part of this community. That’s why I’m here.”