KIND HEART, FIGHTING SPIRIT
Certain characteristics work well together within a given environment, such as ambition, determination, encouragement, and a work ethic.
When evinced by someone confronting adversity, the outcome may evoke the likes of something portrayed in Modelo’s “fighting spirit” commercials.
North Marion High School senior Andrea Herrejon Calderon appears to have harnessed such within her environment. Her potential deterrents aren’t setbacks — they are motivators.
The youngest of immigrant parents, Joel Herrejon and Natalia Calderon of Hubbard, Andrea was the first in her family born in the U.S. This spring, she becomes the first of her family to graduate high school. In the fall, she will be the first to attend college.
“I am going to George Fox and studying to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing,” Andrea revealed. “I want to make my parents proud. It is something I want to do for them because they have been so supportive of me.”
Andrea confessed that she is very hard on herself, and some of her teachers pointed out that such resolve often pushes her to try harder. But she’s also readily willing to help others around her.
“Andrea is the type of student who has to fight for everything she earns in her classes,” North Marion math teacher Remy Strapp said. “School doesn’t come easy for her, but she is determined to push herself and not take the easy route.”
The easy route won’t get Andrea where she wants to go, but her fighting spirit will.
“She is in my college math class this year and has struggled, but she continued on because she wants to pursue a degree in nursing and knows she will need the advanced math,” Remy observed. “She comes in early and stays late just to get help, and often only earns a “C” in class.”
Andrea said she had taken college algebra and chemistry with her goals in mind. She’s taken Spanish to achieve her bilingual certification, balancing her schedule with some government and civics classes. And when Chemeketa Community College offered a free medical terminology class, she jumped at the opportunity to take it.
In addition to a hefty class load, Andrea works at the Express in Woodburn Premium Outlets — and she plans to continue working while attending college — is active with the MEChA club, and is a volunteer/helper for a new teacher in the district.
“I have known Andrea for four years now, and she has been a MEChA member since her freshman year,” said Jezell Terrell, North Marion’s library/media specialist and MEChA adviser. “Andrea has also been dancing since then. I can always depend on Andrea when I am in need of help. She almost always signs up for every concession stand or any other project/fundraiser we have going on. I am truly going to miss having her in the MEChA Club when she graduates.”
Andrea said her familial environment, cultural education and awareness helped spur her to achieve.
“So, in Mexico there they have a lot of doctors and nurses to help people,” she explained. “My mom once had breast cancer, and my grandpa is sick now too. So, I want to (pursue a field) where I can help people who need it.”
She said her parents and her Catholic faith are inspirations to this end, as are her hard-working siblings who had fewer opportunities than she: Lijo, 39; Nancy, 35; Bulmaro, 32 – all of Woodburn.
“My brother Bulmaro has been a big motivator for me,” Andrea said. “He lives in Woodburn and takes care of his family, and he’s the one who is motivating me to do whatever I can. He tells me to don’t give up and to believe in myself.”
She added that her aunt and godmother, Yadira Calderon, who works in the medical field, is another inspiration.
Beyond her family, North Marion Community educators believe Andrea’s Andrea heart and resolve are admirable.
North Marion’s Opportunity Center Coordinator Kelly Young describes it as “Fabulous!”
“She is a great student and is always willing to help other students succeed. I enjoy her sense of humor and commitment to being the best,” Kelly said.
It is something to emulate.
“She is kind, thoughtful, and extremely hard working. And, although her grades don’t scream ‘amazing,’ the effort she extends to earn those grades is laudable,” Remy enthused.