Student Focused on Saving the Earth is Still Looking for Home
(Santa Ana) - Focused on conservation, and sustaining a dream to save the planet, 21-year-old Santa Ana College (SAC) student, Geovanni Salgado, looks forward to continuing his education at Humboldt State University, this fall. However, without a place to call home, Salgado faces a familiar challenge, that of being homeless.
Salgado’s interest in science and biology led him to an internship he found through the Student Conservation Academy, at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the summer of 2012.
“It was a dream come true living in that environment. I rode my bike everywhere,” said Salgado.
As an interpreter for Spanish-speaking visitors, he would give advice on weather and teach visitors about the history, geology and wildlife of the park, especially migratory birds. He also led canoe tours on Jackson Lake giving conservation talks.
Salgado would like to start a nonprofit organization in Southern California, serving K-12 students, teaching them about conservation, the outdoor world and all there is to experience. As a volunteer for the Sierra Club, he took fifth- and sixth-graders on trips to the Mojave Desert for hiking and exploring. It was then that Salgado recognized the importance of exposing kids to the outdoors and the world of conservation, convinced that otherwise they wouldn’t know what they are missing.
“My message is to grow your own food and think about the bigger picture for your children. I’m not going to find the next cure for cancer, however I am passionate about what I’m doing, and our environment is equally as important. Changing how we live and what we eat, we can help to reduce and avoid health problems, too,” said Salgado.
Returning from his summer internship, Salgado returned to apartment life where his family shared a space with another family. It was then, in his third year at SAC that Salgado was told he would have to move out. His family couldn’t afford to keep him sleeping on the couch he occupied at night.
Difficult financial times, including being homeless was a familiar pain for Salgado. Raised by a single mother, along with his younger sister, Salgado’s mother was unemployed for most of his childhood. As a third grader, he remembers living with his family in a car for three months.
For the next eight months, from fall 2012 until April 2013, Salgado moved from place to place, staying in the backyards of friends’ homes in a tent, or camping in the national forest nearest Santiago Canyon College.
The challenge of studying was dealt with by using the Chapman University library that was open until 1:30 a.m. Sometimes friends would let him come over and study as well. Living out of his back pack, he carried two t-shirts, a pair of pants, his toothbrush, and a bar of soap in case the opportunity for a shower arose.
“It was hard and it hurt me deeply not to have the connection with my family,” Salgado said.
Despite the hardships, Salgado kept his spirits up by staying positive and pretending he was camping. Resolute in continuing his education Salgado knew he needed to survive.
Salgado’s dedication paid off. He earned a $40,000 United States Department of Agriculture Partnership for Transfer Success Program scholarship and plans to attend Humboldt State University this fall. However, with plans to make his big move on August 24, less than a month away, Salgado is faced again with finding a home.
“I don’t know where I’m going to live yet. It turns out I’m on a wait list for a dorm room at Humboldt U,” says Salgado.
Salgado is not afraid. He exudes confidence in this planet he cares so deeply for, claiming that it will care for him too, and somehow he will find a home.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which will turn 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 13,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit www.sac.edu to learn more.
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