Woodlake’s Woman of the Year: Aurora Medina provides guidance and help to Woodlake students in preparing for college
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
WOODLAKE – High school students in their senior years may seem a little lost. Unsure of what their futures holds as far as college and how to pay for it. For the past 39 years students at Woodlake High School are lucky to have someone dedicated to helping out. Aurora Medina has helped thousands of kids, and it was for that reason why she was named the 2017 Woodlake Woman of the Year.
When Medina was told she had won the award a feeling began to wash over her. While grateful she took the news like any other award winner who believes in what they do for nothing more than the sake of doing it.
“I just did not feel like I was worthy of that title,” Medina said. “I’ve gone to other award dinners and seen what everyone does, and I just did not think I was in the same category.”
MedinaMedian’s pursuit to help began at an early age and the influence of one teacher. The oldest of seven siblings her parents, Juan Clement and Irene Hernandez, traveled around the western United States looking for migrant farm work. Eventually they settled in Woodlake when she was very young.
Unfamiliar with the educational system Medina’s parents never visited the schools for any type of consultation. As long as her parents did not receive a phone call concerning grades everything was fine.
As Medina grew and entered high school she was assigned to a homeroom class for all four years. There she met a teacher, Marvin Welch, who became her source of encouragement. At first it was just checking on grades. Then as she got further into her schooling it became checking on transcripts and making sure she was on the right path for college.
“I’ve just never forgotten Marvin Welch,” Medina said.
The encouragement and guidance which Welch provided paved the way for Medina to become the first of her family to go to college. After attending College of the Sequoias she finished her schooling at Fresno State with a degree in social welfare.
Circumstances however, forced social service department to make cuts at the time. As a result Medina decided to come to work for the school system. She began at the high school but would switch to middle school for a few years as well. Eventually she moved back the high school for good.
Woodlake High School has approximately 126 seniors every year. Over the years Medina’s purpose became much like Welch’s just on a larger scale. It is up to her to notify all seniors of any potential scholarship opportunities based on what they want to study, and back ground.
A task which seems easier than it really is. Medina is constantly reminding students of deadlines, and making sure every form is submitted correctly. Even going to the junior students and making sure they have signed up for their SATs.
“For me it is wanting to have our kids shine,” Medina said. “To get those awards, to get that money that I think they deserve through their hard work and merit.”
Medina sees all her students as her kids. As many of the seniors prepare to graduate they send letters thanking her for the hard work she put in to help them get there. Some even come back and tell stories of their success which if it wasn’t for Medina keeping a constant eye on them may not have happened.
Her mindset has also led her to help out students in other ways. A big supporter of the arts and theatre Medina has helped fundraise, and been to shows.
“I just think of how talented these kids are and not only in a classroom but in extracurricular activities,” Medina said.