‘SMALL ACTS CAN REALLY MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE’
Francisca Camarillo takes pride in helping others.
Whether she’s assisting students with complicated math equations, ensuring that minorities exercise their right to vote, or even providing language interpretations — she’s always there to answer the call.
Ms. Camarillo, 32, has spent the better part of the past two years tutoring grade school and college students.
She graduated from Santa Maria High in 2006. After taking a few years off from school, she attended Allan Hancock College and recently received her associate degree in liberal studies with a concentration on mathematics and science.
This fall, she will continue her education at Cal Poly,- her dream school. She will pursue her bachelor’s degree and hopes one day to attain her masters.
Through tutoring, Ms. Camarillo has found a love for math, specifically algebra.
“It’s just really fascinating to be able to help others understand things that can be complicated,” she told the News-Press in a recent interview.
She hopes to one day teach math courses — either as a school teacher or college professor.
“I want to be able to change other people’s lives just like my life was changed with education,” she said.
Ms. Camarillo served as a tutor through Allan Hancock’s California Mini Corps program, which provides instructional services to migrant children. It provides training, mentoring, advising and financial support for university students interested in becoming teachers, according to the college’s website.
“For me, it was really impactful,” she said of the program.
She has created bonds with many of the students she has tutored. She formed a strong relationship with one student, and the two were able to talk about issues going on outside the classroom while still working to improve her math lessons.
“That’s why I do what I do,” she said. “It really makes a difference in their life. I’m sort of a guide and I help them, but they put in all the work.”
Ms. Camarillo is of Mixtec descent, which was the first language she learned growing up. When she was younger, she wasn’t open about her background because of the perception some may have of it. As she grew up, she began to look into her heritage.
She now takes pride in her roots, and said the language has allowed her to help others through outreach and being an interpreter.
Ms. Camarillo is trilingual, speaking Mixtec, English and Spanish.
She is able to use those skills to advocate for immigrant rights.
“If you have something, even if it’s not monetary … there’s always something you can offer,” she said. “Small acts can really make a big difference in the world.”
The mother of three was one of the more than 2,400 local students to receive scholarships from the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
“It’s really lifting a big weight off my shoulders,” she said. “It just helps me be able to keep going knowing that there are people who believe in you. It’s given me so much hope and I want to make it count.
Earlier this year, Ms. Camarillo received a $2,500 scholarship from the foundation to continue her education.
“I got this far and there’s no way I’m not going to finish what I started,” she said.
On her bedroom wall at home is a collection of stars, each featuring a hand-written goal that she has for herself or her family. Every time she feels too tired or overwhelmed, she will look at her goals to help her push forward.
She recalled being overwhelmed and crying tears of joy when she received her admission letter from Cal Poly — a school she has wanted to attend ever since she was a little girl. She praised the counselors and staff at Allan Hancock for their guidance.
“They give me the hope and strength that keeps me going,” she said. “You can’t do anything alone, and sometimes you need to ask for help.”