Normandale TRIO Upward Bound Advisor
"I always tell my students discipline does pay off," said De'Andre Avaloz, a TRIO Upward Bound Advisor and a first-generation college graduate.
De'Andre grew up in a single-parent household in South St. Paul with his mom. De'Andre and his mom are just 19 years apart and share a strong bond and closeness in his life. "I talk to her more than anyone else, we lean on each other a lot," said Avaloz.
Although his mom never got to go to college, she always wanted De'Andre to have more opportunities. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, De'Andre said it was obvious that the way out was education. "I knew just going outside and looking around, all the people I saw had one thing in common... they didn't have an education," said Avaloz.
During De'Andre's first year of high school, he joined TRIO Upward Bound himself. He took advantage of every single workshop, conference and opportunity and it is that discipline that opened doors for him. He remembers distinctly the moment he knew where he would be going to college.
De'Andre attended a TRIO conference and was lost walking the halls, when Mr. Alexander Hines grabbed him and pulled him into his session. Mr. Hines was from Winona State University's Diversity Center, and De'Andre was so inspired in his workshop that he decided to attend Winona State. He continues to keep in touch with Hines regularly to this day.
De'Andre also distinctly remembers when he decided his major. It was 9/11/2001. Like many Americans, he can recount every detail of this somber day. What really moved De'Andre was the images from that day and he knew photojournalism was the major for him.
When the timing was right, he went off to Winona State and graduated with a degree in photojournalism. Following his graduation in 2013, De'Andre worked as a videographer for a while before he figure out he was too extroverted to work in the field which was very independent. He shifted into education as a substitute teacher and eventually worked his way into Upward Bound, helping the very program that helped him find his own path.
Although his career path wouldn't be listed under jobs you can do with a photojournalism degree, De'Andre wants you to know that there is always a way to incorporate you major and passions, if not in your job then at least in your personal life.
The important piece is getting your education period. De'Andre constantly takes a journalistic storytelling approach to the work he does with his students. He recently had a photo exhibition highlighting homelessness on display at Normandale to name just a few of the many of his accomplishments. De'Andre is giving back in many ways and we are lucky to have him at Normandale.