The Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship Is Life Changing: My Story as a Fellow
By: Kimberly Gallegos, 2022 Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellow
I have always known in my gut that I wanted to have a career in education, but like many, it took some time to figure out where I belonged in this space. After I graduated from college I spent a couple of years as a recreational event planner prior to beginning my career as an educator.
In my current role as a manager of program vendor operations at YES Prep, I have become increasingly interested in academic operations and because of this, I was introduced to Latinos for Education. I knew that I wanted to further my career in the education sector and joining the 2022 cohort of the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship was a great place to begin.
To start, the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship has gotten me out of my comfort zone. I am comfortable in my role at Yes Prep, but I also know I am capable of more. For me, taking part in the fellowship has helped me avoid complacency in my career by introducing me to a new setting, new people, and new growth opportunities. It has allowed me to have conversations and build relationships with other education professionals whose guidance has aided me in strengthening and broadening my organization’s impact on students.
In addition, the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship has encouraged building culture in professional settings. I was initially hesitant to apply as a Latina who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and had always felt relatively out of touch with her culture.
However, that changed when I found the Fellowship. The Fellowship has fostered the idea of creating spaces in professional environments where one can present themselves authentically and incorporate different parts of who they are into their work. Immersing myself in a network of other professionals from the same culture as me has helped me feel confident in my story of self and value the ways my culture has played a part in who I am and the work I want to lead. It has been the joy of my career to engage with and build culture with other Fellows.
The Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship has also supported my professional development. All that I have experienced during my time in the fellowship, including joining EdCentro, has benefitted the work in my current position and where I see myself in the future.
My long-term goal is to open my own nonprofit that partners with charter school systems to educate and support students from underserved communities on the importance of health and nutrition.
I know that the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship has equipped me with the tools to do so. And not only that, but it has inspired me to go above and beyond in my career, be proud of my culture and incorporate that into my work, and grow into the leader I know I can be. I encourage anyone looking to do the same to take the initiative and apply. It’s life changing.
Kimberly Gallegos serves as the Manager of Program Vendor Operations at YES Prep Public Schools where she helps lead the efforts to make sure the Program team manages their budget, handles relations with external vendors, and leads program team procurement operations. She has also been a co-lead in the Latinx Leadership Summit since 2016 as well has helped to plan the additional student affinity summits that YES Prep holds (Brotherhood/Sister, AAPI, Pride +). In February of 2021 Kimberly welcomed her son, Elijah, who has absolutely become her latest obsession. She enjoys football season, spending time with her family as often as she can, and watching a ridiculous amount of reality TV.