SAN LUIS VALLEY — “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world!” This quote by Nelson Mandela describes the core belief that defines who Carol Gurule is, and her fundamental cause in choosing this career move to serve San Luis Valley youth through CSU Extension SLV Area education programs.
“I am passionate about helping others and making a difference,” exclaimed Gurule. “What I've learned is that when you are kind to someone, you set in motion a chain of events that makes each life it touches a little bit better. One by one, that act of kindness is paid forward ... till one day it comes back to you multiplied. I am especially passionate about helping our youth recognize the importance of remaining in school and that each and every one of them have possibilities of furthering their education.”
CSU has chosen Gurule to pioneer a specialized, youth development program called Juntos 4-H. Developed in North Carolina and now successful in 15 states, Juntos 4-H is specifically designed to help more students graduate high school, and then go on to whatever level of post-secondary training or education that best meets their own interests and goals.
Juntos is unique in that it serves the youth and their families who typically do not participate in the traditional 4-H program. Colorado will be the sixteenth state to implement Juntos, and Gurule will be instrumental in establishing it successfully in the Valley.
“Being a SLV Native, I have found that we are unique in our culture and in our upbringing,” Gurule explained, “especially as a Latina woman who grew up in the seasonal farmworker community. My father had many titles but the one I recall was ‘Patron’ (Boss) as the field workers called him.”
Gurule recalled being pulled out of school around late October to early November to work during potato harvest.
“We were picking potatoes off the ground with gunny sacks that had hooks on both sides hanging off a 2x4 tied around my waist,” Gurule said. “Bent over in the freezing, early winter morning or in the hot afternoon sun, picking up and down the potato field, making 50 cents a half sack. I also worked the fields in the hot summer months picking sweet pea for 25 cents a bushel, and thinning, cutting, and wrapping lettuce and spinach in the fields. The work was tough, to say the least, but we did it every year.”
And every year Gurule vowed she would not be a statistic.
“What changed my life was when I realized education was the best way to go, and I worked hard and even harder to make certain that every time my report card came out that I was holding a 3.0 GPA or higher and that no matter what, my name was always going to appear in the Valley Courier honor roll! And it did,” she said.
These experiences in her youth inspired Gurule’s purpose in life.
“I knew I had to work harder at everything, including my education,” Gurule said. “I knew then that the difference I wanted to make in our community would be to assist those children left in the corners, not knowing who to turn to; not knowing that there are resources like CSU Extension and Juntos 4-H to help them. I knew then that my passion was to educate students and their families as their struggle is real.”
There are endless opportunities available to students and their families if they can simply envision that they do have a path to reach their goals and to reach their highest potential.
To learn more about the Juntos 4-H program, or to get to know Gurule as your newest San Luis Valley Extension educator, call 719-852-7381, or drop by the SLV Area Extension office in Monte Vista.
CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.