Central Washington University student body president Gabriel
Munoz' parents each have a second-grade education, so college
wasn't something he set his sights on early in life. It wasn't
until about fourth or fifth grade, when he moved to Wapato, that
Munoz started to learn English.
His parents thought if he could learn English, he'd be set for
life, Munoz said. But once he started high school, they motivated
him to finish.
"High school was very difficult," Munoz said. "Nobody I knew
wanted to go out and do something awesome." Many of his peers were
dropping out of school and getting into trouble.
"I just didn't know what school was for," Munoz said.
Then he joined the U.S. Army after graduation.
"It's like coming out of a cave," Munoz said. "I saw a different
He learned what he was capable of and realized how much
potential he had.
"Everybody has potential, but you've got to be in the right
place," Munoz said.
He spent three years in active duty and four years as a reserve,
and, when he finished his service, Munoz was a sergeant. The GI
Bill wasn't what motivated him to join the Army, but he didn't
hesitate to take advantage of it.
Munoz completed two years at Yakima Valley Community College and
enrolled at Central in 2008. He graduates this spring alongside his
wife of almost five years, Anahi Munoz.
"I'm really excited that I'm seeing more Latinos here at
Central," Munoz said.
But there's a long way to go, he added, knowing that the
demographics are changing and the increase in the Latino population
needs to be supported.
"My dream is to create a system here in Washington state to
support Latinos," and all minorities who don't have language
skills, Munoz said.
Munoz said it would be a living system that would change as the
people change. It would be a one-stop organization, capable of
serving a wide range of needs and providing information to make
people more successful and live a quality life.
More Latinos and other minorities enrolled in higher education
is good for communities, Munoz said.
"The community needs educated people who have things in common
to relate to the people in their communities," he said.
He called it a chain reaction that leads to a better standard of
living and opportunities for children.
Having a campus community that reflects where students come from
is also important, Munoz said.
"The more diverse, the better," Munoz said. "We'll be able to
communicate with so many people, it's going to be an extra tool
we'll have to be hired in the workplace, to be successful in the