Major: International Relations
Hometown: Orland, CA
Program Position: Clerical Staff, CAVE
Like many others on campus, Armando heard a CAVE talk in several of his freshmen classes. He was curious to learn more so he visited CAVE’s website and was sold. Armando had volunteered a lot in high school, so CAVE seemed like a natural progression to continue that tradition. He wanted to volunteer with children so he signed up for the Hermanos y Hermanas program where he served as a big brother to a nine year Latino boy for a semester. Getting to be a mentor, tutor and role model to a child was an incredibly rewarding experience for Armando. After one semester of volunteering, he was recruited to be a Group Leader for the program where he monitored a caseload of eight volunteers. “It was cool to be on the other side after being a volunteer. I saw what staff did and how they made placements.” During his tenure with the program, Hermanos y Hermanas morphed into the EL (English Learners) Program to broaden the population served. Being more inclusive allowed the program to grow a bit more.
After making his mark with that program, Armando wanted to experience something new at CAVE. There was an opening on the clerical staff so he went for it. The front desk at CAVE is the 411 center for the largest student run organization on campus. There are five students who handle all the incoming traffic and talk with students to determine which programs are the best fit for them. When he isn’t talking to a student face to face, he’s on the phone, organizing paperwork and volunteer documentation, or running errands on campus. “I’m smiling and filing,” says Armando with a wink.
Armando’s involvement with CAVE isn’t limited to his staff position. He is a volunteer as well. His first volunteer experience at CAVE was with the Yountville Program. Since his grandmother lives in Mexico, he saw this as a great opportunity to interact with seniors on a personal level. The trip far exceeded his expectations. He had the opportunity to visit with 20 different veterans. “I got to learn why they were there, how war impacted their lives, and hear their wisdom.” These conversations occurred while they shared meals, took walks, played bingo, and did arts and crafts. “Interacting with the elderly makes me feel warm and I hope it makes them happy.” At the other end of the age spectrum, Armando is also a CAVE tutor and works twice a week with local elementary school students.
“I used to be very shy. CAVE pushed me to go out and talk to people. It helped me become more confident and increased my network of friends.” Armando has also learned valuable time management and organizational skills – all of which he puts to good practice since he carries a full academic load, works part time as a waiter and part time at CAVE, AND still manages to find time to volunteer.
Ultimately Armando wants to work abroad, hopefully in Spain or Chile, in some type of government job. The door is wide open at this point. He has been involved with the Model UN program on campus and likens that experience to his work at CAVE. “You learn people skills – how to work in a group, how to solve problems and resolve conflicts, etc.” Armando is equipped with a ready smile and a strong work ethic so he is sure to succeed wherever he goes.
In Armando’s words:
I encourage others to volunteer because it makes you feel good about yourself. You get to make a difference, gain experience for your resume and make new friends. CAVE is a rewarding and supportive environment where you get to be yourself. There’s love all over the place!