Angel Mandujano may be the baby of his family, but hes mature beyond his years in at least one significant way.
Hes planned to attend college since he was in elementary school.
Ive been thinking about going for a long time, said Mandujano, 17, who will graduate from Glencoe High School with honors June 7. Actually, I cant remember when I wasnt thinking about it.
Neither his sister, Liliana, 24, nor his brother, Rafael Jr., 22, went on to college or university after graduating from Glencoe. Angel aims to be the first to get his bachelors degree four years from now from Oregon State University.
The Cornelius residents parents, Guadalupe and Rafael, both supervisors at Fisher Farms in Gaston, were supportive of his college dreams from the beginning even though they did not go themselves.
My parents encouragement has been really important to me, said Mandujano. Theyve been really awesome about it all.
Last year, however, when the family experienced significant financial challenges, Mandujano considered staying in Washington County to work after commencement.
College was always 100 percent for me until the beginning of 2013, he said. My parents were going through a hard time financially, and I thought maybe I should stay around to help out.
Still, he said, his folks pushed him along his path to college.
They said, You need to go. You want to go, Mandujano recalled.
After a lukewarm start academically in elementary and middle school, Mandujano took his first accelerated classes at Glencoe and brought his grades up.
I had been a pretty average student until I got to high school, but Ive definitely been a focused person here, he said. I really like English and history.
He also got involved in Key Club, Sparrow Club, MEChA (Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Atzlán, a Latino heritage group) and student council, where hes Associated Student Body treasurer this year.
I really like being there for students who feel theyre under-represented, said Mandujano of his involvement in MEChA.
During his junior year, Mandujano attended a youth summit that involved students from every Hillsboro high school and addressed the effects of discrimination and bullying, something that has stuck with him since.
Ive seen that kind of thing happen one stereotype is that if youre a Latino student youre just in the back of the class drawing on the table, he said. I like the idea of empowering kids so they dont feel like victims.
With a 3.29 GPA and a boatload of extracurriculars to recommend him, Mandujano was accepted at Portland State University, Western Oregon University and the University of Oregon. He chose OSU mainly because of the campus atmosphere, which he described as homey after visiting Corvallis last summer.
As a freshman, Mandujano will focus on education, possibly double-majoring in English and history, with an eye to becoming a high school teacher.
I might go directly on to a masters program after college, he said.
Concerns over whether he could afford the bills at OSU started to melt away after Mandujano applied for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) funding and received $18,500 toward his first year.
That took a big load off my mind, he said.
He also got help from the federal College Assistance Migrant Program, which awarded him a laptop computer to use for his classes.
Mandujanos Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) advisor at Glencoe, English teacher Beth Morgan, has been instrumental in guiding him through the application and scholarship maze.
She was the first teacher in the first class I took in high school, noted Mandujano. She said, Lets try to help you reach your ultimate goal.
Ill never forget that. She believed in me.
For Mandujano, whos only slightly nervous over jumping from a campus of 1,700 to one with 24,000 students, college represents more than an opportunity to advance his studies. He wants to pay it forward.
Id like to stick around here Ill try to come back and teach in the Hillsboro district, he said. I want to give something back to a school system that gave so much to me.