Coordinators with deep ties to their communities join Open Campus and Juntos

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Extension Service’s Open Campus and Juntos Program has hired two coordinators with deep ties to their communities in central and eastern Oregon.

Nayeli Contreras will serve as coordinator for Malheur, Morrow and Umatilla counties. Emily Chavez Romero will serve as coordinator for Deschutes and Jefferson counties and provide support for the program in Crook County.

“We are excited to have Emily and Nayeli join the Open Campus and Juntos team and begin connecting with local students and families,” said Gina Galaviz-Yap, Juntos statewide director for OSU Extension.

Open Campus and Juntos provides access to education through community based partnerships and unique programming. Open Campus launched Juntos in Oregon in 2012. Juntos (“together” in Spanish) is a multi-component program designed to bring Latinx families and educational institutions together to create pathways to higher education for Latinx youth and their families. The program’s motto is “Juntos para una Mejor Educación” (Together for a Better Education).

Juntos is unique among college access programs because it engages the entire family with a strong emphasis on cultural responsiveness, while minimizing barriers to participation.

Contreras grew up and went to school in Umatilla and Hermiston. She is a graduate of Hermiston High School. She graduated from OSU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences. During college she participated in the College Assistance Migrant Program and was a student worker for the Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez for three years. She recently completed a master’s in the College Student Services Administration program in OSU’s School of Language, Culture, and Society.

She comes to OSU Extension from the Blue Mountain Community College Hermiston Center, where she spent last 4½ years, most recently as the center director. Prior to becoming director in June of 2021, she was a student success coach, Latinx liaison and the Hermiston Center precision agriculture coordinator. Contreras worked closely with local high schools in recruiting for the college, including supporting federal student aid application workshops, College Application Week, informal tours of the Hermiston Center and serving as an Active Student Participation Inspires Real Engagement (ASPIRE) program mentor.

Chavez Romero participated in Juntos as a student in Redmond. She recently graduated with honors from the University of Oregon, with a bachelor’s degree in indigenous, race and ethnic studies and minors in Lantinx studies and anthropology. She graduated from Ridgeview High School in 2018, and through her volunteering with the Latino Community Association and social justice activism she was awarded a Ford Family Foundation scholarship.

At the U of O, Chavez Romero pursued opportunities to continue her work in racial equity and human rights, and particularly the immigrant social justice movement. She served as the student program assistant in Multicultural and Identity-Based Support Services, where she aided in the planning, implementation and marketing of educational and community-building events and programs that support “Dreamers” and other undocumented college students in Oregon.

She was co-director of the 17th and 18th annual Raices Unidas Youth Conferences hosted by the U of O’s Mecha chapter. The conferences invited Latinx/e high school students from across the state to attend workshops on topics such as culture, indigenous roots, identity, education, gender, sexuality, immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and allyship.

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