Portrait by Devi Pride Photography.
Dr. Nereida Robles Vásquez
Dr. Nereida Robles Vásquez is a co-founder of Senderos, a non-profit organization created in 2001, as a folklorico dance group for disenfranchised youth. She was inspired to start the program while working as a public-school aide in Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS). She noticed that her Latino students were disproportionately referred to the continuation high school. She saw that they did not receive the support nor the affirmation they needed to view themselves as capable students. Instead, they were sent to a school known for low expectations.
Nereida’s parents, maestros Atilano Robles and Natividad Vásquez, planted a seed in her that education is important and a necessity in life. She is extremely thankful for having parents who believe that women and men are entitled to attend school, live independently, and earn an education.
As an immigrant Zapotec woman from Santiago Laxopa, Oaxaca, México, Nereida arrived in America with the determination to gain a college education. First, she enrolled in English language classes in the Santa Cruz Adult Education program. Next, she enrolled in Cabrillo Community College at the age of 29. While working to support her family, she earned an associate degree and then transferred to San Jose State University (SJSU).
Starting in 2006, during her nine years of education at SJSU, while working full time, Nereida earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in School Social Work, and a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership.
Currently, Nereida is a social worker for SCCS, the same district where she started her career as a classroom aide. She is also a professor and a credential coordinator at California State University Monterey Bay in the Department of Social Work where she shares her experiences with graduate students who will become social workers in public education.