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Episode 23: Californians for All with Tania Salinas

This episode is Part 2 of Californians for All. In Part One, or Episode 20, The Annenberg Learner Podcast interviewed Josh Friday, the Chief Service Officer at the Office of the Governor, who spoke about College Corps, which helps create debt-free pathways to college while engaging college students across California to solve problems in their communities.  

This episode is Part 2 of Californians for All. In Part One, or Episode 20, The Annenberg Learner Podcast interviewed Josh Friday, the Chief Service Officer at the Office of the Governor, who spoke about College Corps Fellowship. Tania Salinas, a Californians for All College Corps Fellow, is engaged in service while completing her studies at Allan Hancock College. Tania is in her second year at Allan Hancock, majoring in Agricultural Science. 

The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Nati Rodriguez [01:29] 
Can you share about your cohort experience? My understanding is you’re one of 3,200 College Corps Fellows this year. How is it going so far?  

Tania Salinas [01:44] 
It’s going really good. Where I am stationed is Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. At the moment, it’s on the education part of the three categories for College Corps. Right now, what I’m doing is tutoring.  

Nati Rodriguez [02:01] 
Great. Just as a refresher for everyone, if you didn’t listen in to our previous episode with Josh Friday, the College Corps Fellows serve in three key areas, including K-12 Education, Food Insecurity, and Climate Change. Tania, with us today, is working in education. Can you tell us about the students you’re tutoring? Is it one, more than one? What grade levels and what do you help them out with?   

Tania Salinas [02:26] 
The students that I tutor – it’s a variety of grades, and they are foster students. Depending on what they need help on and where they need to be, that’s what I work on with each student. Right now, I think I have six. 

Nati Rodriguez [02:44] 
Got it. What grade levels or ages are they?  

Tania Salinas [02:47] 
Everything from TK all the way to 7th grade.  

Nati Rodriguez [02:52] 
Wow, that’s a big range. Do you meet with them in person, online, or some other format? 

Tania Salinas [02:59] 
They’re all in person. I only have one student where I tutor at the school, and the other ones are all at home. I go to their homes.

Nati Rodriguez [03:17] 
Got it. They must be really close to where you live and your university, is that correct?  

Tania Salinas [03:23] 

Nati Rodriguez [03:25] 
Got it. What has it been like to be serving in your own community? Can you let us know where is Hancock College?  

Tania Salinas [03:32] 
Allan Hancock College is located in Santa Maria.  

Nati Rodriguez [03:37] 
Okay. Is that where you’re from as well?  

Tania Salinas [03:38] 

Nati Rodriguez [03:39] 
What is it like working with students that are in your own community that you grew up in and are studying there?  

Tania Salinas [03:47] 
It’s really nice helping the community. You just see how happy the kids get to see you, and you see that they’re improving. You’re actually helping them, and every time they see me they want more work; they want to be better. They told me, “One day I want to be just like you.” It was something heartfelt of helping the community. 

Nati Rodriguez [04:11] 
Yeah, I think it’s wonderful that they get the experience of working with someone like you that’s older, accomplished, and working on her degree, and that also looks like the community and is from the community that you’re serving. So, you’re working with TK through 7th. Can you tell us about what you’ve worked on with them? What subjects or any projects that you’ve done? 

Tania Salinas [04:36] 
With them, I’ve done Math, English, more specific would be, with their grammar. There are some students that I have that don’t know anything much. It could be probably because of the pandemic. It was online, and maybe they didn’t get the subject very well. Some of them I start from the basics, like letters, sounds, and reading, from kindergarten. 

Nati Rodriguez [05:04] 
How many hours a week are you working with students?  

Tania Salinas [05:07] 
It varies because sometimes the parents have appointments since they’re foster students. It’s 8-10 hours per week.  

Nati Rodriguez [05:20] 
Got it. That’s a lot, considering you’re going to school yourself. Can you remind us again what you’re studying?  

Tania Salinas [05:26] 
I’m studying Agricultural Science at Allan Hancock; I am also doing Agricultural Education for me to transfer.  

Nati Rodriguez [05:35] 
Okay, and what is that exactly? What’s Agricultural Science and Agricultural Education? 

Tania Salinas [05:41] 
What I’ve learned with Agricultural Science, the major – everything that’s plant science, animal science, fruit science, knowing all the things about agriculture. Later on, once I’m finished with my degree, [I want to be] a high school teacher.  

Nati Rodriguez [06:04] 
Got it. Okay, so you want to teach?  

Tania Salinas [06:08] 

Nati Rodriguez [06:09] 
Awesome. Is that why you took on this role as a College Corps Fellow?  

Tania Salinas [06:15] 
Yes, obviously I know it wouldn’t be like the high school level, but it’s giving me some knowledge, like how to teach the students that I have.  

Nati Rodriguez [06:26] 
I’m happy to hear that, obviously, because we are all about having wonderful teachers and really advancing excellent teaching in schools so really excited to hear that that’s the path that you’re on. I’m curious what makes you want to be a teacher?  

Tania Salinas [06:43]  
Once I started high school, at first, it was, “be a lawyer”, and then I didn’t like it. I had this service of AG (agriculture) so it gives you knowledge of agriculture and the teacher I had – at that moment I was very quiet – so he motivated me to do the AG all like how he helps the students. Because he helped me – me doing this today, being able to talk to you – before I wasn’t capable of that. I kept everything on my own. I wouldn’t really be social as I am now, so now I want to do that for other students that might need help with their social skills, like how he did for me. 

Nati Rodriguez [07:36] 
Well, you’re doing fantastic, and I’m surprised to hear that you were quiet before and just amazing to hear about those individuals that really change our lives and can have a significant influence on the path that we take. Also, great to hear that now you’re on that, and I’m sure you’re impacting the six students that you’re working with and more to come as you complete your studies and become a classroom teacher. 

Nati Rodriguez [8:46] 
Similar to wanting to know about why you want to be a teacher. Tell us about your interest in agriculture? Where did that come from?  

Tania Salinas [08:55] 
It came from very little. Since I was born in Idaho Falls, my dad was in the dairy industry, so I would always be there helping him. We would sometimes make the hay bales with the tractor, and I would just like, be there running around and then feeding the cows, making their bottles of milk. I just got so happy being around animals and all the taking care of stuff like the plants and all that. 

Nati Rodriguez [09:33] 
Yeah, it’s definitely something that I don’t think we spend a lot of time thinking about – like where does the food that we’re eating every day come from, and how do we get everybody the nutrients they need to be productive individuals in our society? So, that’s a great combo. Education and Agricultural Science are awesome. I’m curious what has been most challenging for you in this role as a College Corps Fellow? It sounds like you’re juggling a lot – your own studies and then being an inspiration and a teacher to others. What is most challenging for you? 

Tania Salinas [10:17] 
The thing that has been challenging is making a balance between my schoolwork and focusing on what I need to prepare for every time I have to go help them. So, making sure I have an activity for them or worksheets, or if they need help with something that they probably didn’t get from the teachers, if they need more help – just balancing it out. 

Nati Rodriguez [10:51] 
Time management gets us all, and it’s a practice, so I’m sure you’re getting better with time. How did you get prepared to be a tutor and take on this additional service during your school year? What did that look like? 

Tania Salinas [11:10] 
How I started to become a tutor, there wasn’t really much to be prepared for. We did get a little bit of training, and we have monthly meetings here with the service area that I am at. They have a teacher, so she’ll help us out. You could use these worksheets and stuff.  

Nati Rodriguez [11:37] 
The monthly meetings, are these with other Fellows, or are they with the teacher? What does that look like?  

Tania Salinas [11:43] 
Yeah, it’s with the other Fellows and the teacher.  

Nati Rodriguez [11:48] 
There are other Fellows also working with the same school or school district. Is that how it works?  

Tania Salinas [11:55] 
Yeah, they’re from the same college that I am at, and they’re doing the same thing as me.  

Nati Rodriguez [12:02] 
That’s good. So you have a network or support system for when things come up?  

Tania Salinas [12:09] 

Nati Rodriguez [12:12] 
Well, that’s good to hear. I’m curious, what advice would you give future College Corps Fellows?  

Tania Salinas [12:19] 
It was a little rough at the beginning because we had to figure out when I would actually start. So, I would just say once you’re already at your service, go there often to see what you could help with, so, you could already know the people who you’re going to be working with. That’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s been helping me very much. So, if you’re in the education category, print your papers there so you could get to know more people around there and just get used to the office because that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s really been helping me so much like knowing each person that’s at the office. 

Nati Rodriguez [12:57] 
Yeah, that’s really good advice. I’m hearing – taking the initiative to really get to know the people, the nonprofit that you’re working with, or the school district that you’re working with, at the site level. That’s great.  

Nati Rodriguez [13:31] 
Switching gears here a little bit. I read that you also serve as President of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Club at your campus. Can you speak about this organization and its purpose, and your role as the leader?  

Tania Salinas [13:44] 
The purpose of this organization is, we take people from the agriculture industry to our meetings. The students know what you want to do and what exactly in the agriculture industry you want to be. So, we’ve talked about the water issues; we’ve gone to field trips. Last year we went to the Central Valley; we went for the pistachios and the water canals. We went bowling to get connected with the students. In our college, there are not a lot of social events. My role as the leader, and president of the meeting, I just make sure we have our agendas ready, so we know what we’re doing for each meeting and get everything ready. 

Nati Rodriguez [14:41] 
Yeah. It sounds like a really interesting organization. One thing that you mentioned about the water, we just went through a lot of rain, but I know that it’s in the conversation about how California is going to handle having enough water for living, our agricultural needs, food needs, all of that. I’m excited to hear that people like you are studying this and helping to bring eyes and education around it so we can solve this. I think it’s going to come from people like you. Anything else that you’d like to share about what you’re involved in at your college aside from your service and everything else that you do? 

Tania Salinas [15:27] 
Another program I’m in is the Puente program. So, it’s to help first-generation students. I’m the first one in my family to go to college and the one who’s going to be transferring. They help me when I need help with my classes, and we go to universities, so we know which one we want to go to. 

Nati Rodriguez [15:51] 
That’s incredible, and congratulations on being first gen. That’s not an easy feat to be doing the studying, the serving, and then getting ready for your next transition. It’s a lot of transitions. I think I heard you say that you’ll be transferring at some point. When does that happen in your journey in education? 

Tania Salinas [16:14] 
Next year.  

Nati Rodriguez [16:15] 
Okay, so that’s very exciting. From what I heard about Californians for All and College Corps is that you will walk away with a stipend that will help with some of your paying for college. Is that correct?  

Tania Salinas [16:30] 

Nati Rodriguez [16:31] 
Awesome. So, you’re doing one year of service. What happens after the year?  

Tania Salinas [16:35] 
I’m not sure. I think they’re still figuring out what happens, but as of right now, I don’t really know what happens after the year.  

Nati Rodriguez [16:48] 
Yes, that makes sense. It’s year one and we’re right in the middle of it, so it’s good to not quite get ahead of ourselves and be really present for the service that we’re doing now.  

Nati Rodriguez [17:16]
Swifting gears here. What are you reading, watching, or listening to these days?  

Tania Salinas [17:23] 
I try to read mostly journals, like AG issues, because there are times when people from Young Farmer and Ranchers ask me questions, so I try to at least know something. Watching – I just watch reality TV shows. 

Nati Rodriguez [17:42] 
Okay. Do you have a favorite?  

Tania Salinas [17:44] 
At the moment, I’m watching Keeping Up with Kardashians.  

Nati Rodriguez [17:49] 
Yes. I was going to say classic because it’s been around for a while, but I don’t know if it really falls in that category. Tania, is there anything else that you would like to share with our Learner audience?  

Tania Salinas [18:02] 
I think I would want to share that being in College Corps has been like a very big opportunity that I didn’t know I was going to get to because as the process of how my college was saying about College Corps. I just saw it in my email, and I applied. I didn’t know I was going to get in until I got the congratulations. I would say, things that are thrown your way – opportunities – apply to them.  

Nati Rodriguez [18:35] 
That is wonderful advice and thank you so much. I want to say congratulations to you for making this commitment. You’re not only going to come out with a wonderful experience meeting your cohort and serving students and getting to practice what you’ll be doing in your career, but you’re also touching the lives of kids who have really been impacted by the pandemic and hopefully, working with you, they’ll be able to see themselves going to college and having the kind of experiences that you’re having. Congratulations to you and thank you for being an inspiration to us all.