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Cal Poly grad becomes first in family to finish college

Posted at 11:42 AM, Jun 08, 2020

He will become the first in his family to graduate and continue his education.

Angel Carrillo is an agricultural sciences senior. He will graduate then pursue a master’s degree at Cal Poly in agricultural education. Carrillo hopes to gain industry experience in fruit production for a few years before becoming a high school agriculture teacher.

“I have always had a passion for education and its opportunities,” Carrillo said. “I’m specifically passionate about working with students from underrepresented communities and backgrounds.”

Carrillo grew up in Perris, California and became involved in his high school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program, including public speaking contests, livestock shows, agriculture judging contests, and served in officer positions. He chose Cal Poly for the university’s excellent agricultural education program and its Learn by Doing philosophy.

“I believe hands-on teaching is the best method in learning, especially for areas such as agriculture,” he said. “In addition, I really enjoy the weather and location.”

Carrillo found difficulties in transitioning to college life as he was the first of his family, he didn't know what to expect.

“When I started my first year, I was a bit culture shocked. It seemed like nobody looked like me, talked like me, or even had similar experiences as me,” Carrillo said. “I was a bit intimidated and didn’t think I would really fit in. It wasn’t until I got involved and built relationships — with friends, staff and faculty whom share similar experiences or understand my position — that I began to feel comfortable and was motivated to develop a great Cal Poly experience.”

Carrillo got involved in the Latinos in Agriculture club, serving this past year as its vice president. He’s also worked as a peer mentor for the Multicultural Agriculture Program (MAP) Center; served as the 2018-19 ag council representative on the Cal Poly Crops Club; worked as a peer advisor for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Advising Center; served on the Agricultural Education and Communication Department Student Advisory Council; and joined the CAFES Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as an undergraduate student member.

Carrillo said he is proud of helping to facilitate the Latinos in Agriculture club’s annual 26 Hours of Science and Technology in Agriculture event. High school students from underrepresented communities are invited to participate in agricultural Learn by Doing workshops, to get the students excited about higher education and agriculture.

“Working with high school students just reaffirms for me why I am passionate about working in education,” Carrillo said. “I plan to eventually work with students in hopes of supporting them in any way possible and motivating them to recognize their potential.”