Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Gaby Cordova, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan
Born a first-generation Mexican American in Los Angeles, Gaby Cordova says that her mother instilled in her the values of hard work, determination, and the profound impact that education could have on one’s life. Guided by the value of hard work and perseverance instilled by her immigrant parents, Cordova is fueled by the opportunities that education can unlock.
Cordova, a communications and development coordinator at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan – one of The Education Trust-Midwest’s Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity partners, made the transformative decision to leave Los Angeles after high school and venture to Michigan to attend Kalamazoo College.
“This marked a significant turning point in my life, as I embarked on a new chapter filled with academic challenges, personal growth, and the exploration of being independent,” explained Cordova. “At Kalamazoo College, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with an emphasis on Cultural Studies. I have my parents to thank for supporting me through college and unrelenting support that has been the driving force behind my success.”
Witnessing the enthusiasm, curiosity, and spark of ambition that ignites within students during the Hispanic Center’s Latinx Youth Conference explained Cordova is one of her drives for advocating for students and equity. It’s a reminder that each moment spent with this effort contributes to a brighter, more promising future for young individuals, their families, and the community.
“Being part of the team that helps put on the Latinx Youth Conference is a source of immense joy and fulfillment for me because it serves as a powerful catalyst for inspiring 8th-grade Latino students to pursue higher education,” Cordova said.
The conference promotes equity among 8th-grade students by leveling the playing field, inspiring self-belief, providing essential information and resources, and celebrating diversity and cultural pride. It empowers students to overcome barriers and pursue higher education, regardless of background, and contributes to a more equitable and inclusive society.
“I do the work I do today because of my mom. Since I was younger, my mom has been heavily involved in the community by volunteering at my school or helping the homeless around our neighborhood.”
“I remember when my mom bought a laptop for a kid in the neighborhood because he needed one for school and his parents did not have the financial means to buy him one. It was so selfless of my mom to spend money that she could have spent on herself but instead invested it in a child’s education,” Cordova shared.
Cordova has witnessed first-hand the challenges that many members of the Hispanic community face and is committed to playing a significant role in fostering equity and empowerment within her community.
“It is this fusion of experiences and backgrounds that continues to define and inspire me as I strive to make a meaningful impact on the world.”
Cordova notes that the Hispanic Center was drawn to work alongside ETM because both organizations believe in closing the opportunity gap for students of color. At the Hispanic Center, closing the opportunity gap for underserved students, including Latino students, is of the utmost importance as it aligns with equity and social justice principles.
“It is vital not only because of the significant and growing demographic that Latino communities represent but also for the broader societal benefits it brings,” Cordova explained.
“By ensuring that Latino students have equal access to quality education and opportunities, we empower them to contribute positively to the workforce and economy, reducing poverty and improving community well-being.”