Spotlight Story

01 June 2022

Armando Porras: Defying Barriers of Access to Pursue a Dream

Category: Spotlight Story

One of Armando Porras’ earliest memories is when he would herd sheep through the hills of Guanajuato, Mexico, surrounded by mountains and creeks. Porras immigrated with his family to the United States when he was five years old, and settled in Watsonville, California.

“It was hard because the five of us were staying in a laundry room,” said Porras. “But that only lasted for a couple of months, until my dad’s employer offered him a mobile home.”

In high school, Porras developed an interest in physics and mathematics, and the more he learned about it, the more he was drawn to it. As he was preparing to graduate, his dad encouraged him to pursue an education at a 4-year university, but Porras’ GPA limited him from being a competitive applicant. With the help of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Porras appealed his rejection letter and began his career at California State University, Sacramento where he graduated as a civil engineer.

Like many immigrant students in the United States, Porras’ legal status restricted him from finding employment. As his undergraduate career came to an end, Porras struggled to find opportunities that allowed him to exercise his profession, until he got connected with the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA), a college and career preparation program that supports students from underrepresented ethnic groups. Porras found an internship opportunity with U.S. Fish and Wildlife through Hispanic Access Foundation, and didn’t hesitate.

"Growing up in Mexico I was always surrounded by nature and I loved it. At a young age I thought to myself, 'I want to protect what I love',” said Porras. “Hispanic Access gave me an opportunity despite not being a U.S. citizen.”

His position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taught Porras how to find a balance between land management and environmental conservation. As a civil engineer, his responsibility goes beyond the construction of infrastructure, and extends to protect the health of wildlife and the community. Now, Porras is preparing for a new role in the Bureau of Land Management.

“I enjoy knowing that my job is helping other people and serving a bigger purpose.”

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and supporting local leaders like Armando Porras, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Phone: (202) 640-4342

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