ASU volunteer helps make postsecondary education more accessible

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Erika Araiza has a passion for helping others, especially those within her community.

For a little over a year, Araiza has been helping out with the American Dream Academy, an Arizona State University program that aims to provide support to the families of students who would be first-generation college students.

These families attend an eight-week educational program where they learn about how to prepare, pay for and support their students in a college career. The program is offered in Spanish in addition to English, helping to eliminate language barriers that may limit access to college readiness information for students and their families. 

Araiza helps to organize these events, welcoming students and their families while connecting them to resources in Spanish. Recently, Araiza volunteered her time at the Spanish session of the virtual Future Sun Devil Family Day, which was in part hosted by the American Dream Academy in the fall. 

This event was to help familiarize parents of young students with the college application process and options and resources for paying for college. Araiza first got involved with this program after a friend invited her to join her as a volunteer at one of the American Dream Academy events last year. 

“She encouraged me to be a part of this because I had the personality, and I work very hard in the Hispanic community,” Araiza said. “We know that once we have our people educated, they can make the right decisions and they can help build this world.” 

One thing Araiza prides herself on is involving her friends and family in nearly all the work she does. Araiza’s 7-year-old son, for example, helps his mom out wherever he can. He was even one of the participants in November’s Future Sun Devil Family Day.  

Araiza said that after the event, her son came out excited about ASU and even asked her to buy him an ASU T-shirt. 

“This program is wonderful for all the families who are looking to support their kids and give their students access to ASU,” Araiza said. “It provides a lot of information on how to go through that process and learn about resources like scholarships. It’s a lot of fun. It is very organized; I really enjoy it a lot.”

In addition to having her son in attendance at the event, prior to the pandemic Araiza would invite many of her friends to volunteer as well. 

“When I fall in love with a project, I want to share it. That’s my spirit, to help,” Araiza said. “All my friends were happy that they went because they also had students who were getting ready to start at ASU.”

In addition to volunteering with ASU, Araiza is very involved in her church community and nonprofits connected to her faith. When she is not volunteering, she works as an accountant.

Access ASU Assistant Director Christian Rosario said that support from community members such as Araiza is critical to bringing higher education access and resources to families.

“Erika Araiza has played an important role to increase the number of participants for the Future Sun Devil Family Day in the Mesa area,” he said. “As a respected member of her community and a representative of the Diocese of Phoenix, she was able to help families learn about the importance of higher education and about belonging to the ASU community.”  

If you’re interested in volunteering for Access ASU, call 602-496-1487. The next Future Sun Devil Family Day is on April 10; visit the website for the most up-to-date events. 

Stay in the know on Access ASU programs such as American Dream Academy, Future Sun Devil Family Day, Barrett Summer Scholars, Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and other programs on the Access ASU website and social media in English and Spanish

Written by Marisol Ortega, ASU Student Life. Spanish-language reporting and translation done by Marisol Ortega.