Farm town to college bound: Monica Espinoza


Sydney Sheffield

It was the middle of the morning in Salinas, California when confused and curious high school senior, Monica Espinoza, was pulled from her classroom to meet with a recruiter from San Jose State University. The door opened to a young woman wearing a polo with the SJSU emblem on the breast pocket.

“Good morning, Ms. Espinoza. I’m here to speak with you about opportunity.”

The recruiter began to explain the option of venturing north for a college education.

Espinoza grew up in a small farm town in Monterey County understanding that the normal course of action to take following high school was enrollment in the local community college located in Salinas. She would then return after college and live the rest of her days continuing the family work of farming.

“If you could just fill out these papers… The SAT is this Saturday in the gym at 8 am. Good luck! I’ll be checking in with you after.”

She took the SAT that Saturday. She did well, well enough to apply to SJSU. And receive an acceptance letter.

She did well enough to earn her degree there in business administration.

She did well enough to be hired by Applied Materials as a financial analyst, and well enough to quit her job to pursue academic counseling.

She devoted her life to making sure high school students understood their options.

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As an academic counselor at San Jose High School, she raised the portion of students entering a four-year college from 20% to 50%.

At Gunn High School, she developed a program called College Pathways and raised the portion of students in that program entering a four-year college from 40% to 90%.

At Mountain View High School, she now runs our College and Career Center.

“Welcome. I’m here to speak with you about opportunity.”

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