Mabton native and resident Angel Tovar credits an article in the Daily Sun News with prompting him to seek appointment to the Mabton School Board.
"I read there were no candidates and I thought how can that be," said Tovar, who next month will be appointed to replace District 2 board member Blanche Tobin, who is stepping down at the end of this year.
Tovar said he asked the school district about the board vacancy and decided to seek the appointment.
"It's a huge learning curve for me," Tovar said. "It is an opportunity to be a part of the decision-making team for the betterment of Mabton School District children."
Tovar is an intake director for the DSHS Children's Administration office in Toppenish. The Mabton School Board, he says, is a "sounding board" to hear from school staff and the community about "where we're succeeding and where there can be room for improvement."
Tovar, a UW grad who earned his post-graduate degree from Eastern Washington University, says his focus is on helping Mabton students continue their education beyond high school.
In his work at the Toppenish office, Tovar says part of his responsibility is preparing children who are in foster families or are staying with relatives to continue their education beyond high school.
"That's what we should be doing in the educational field," he said.
Tovar's passion for helping students from rural areas excel at the university level stems from his own experience.
While a student at the UW, Tovar said he participated in a program to mentor minority high school students who visited the Seattle campus. "I told them that I grew up cutting asparagus just like they did and was able to go to a large university," he said.
Serving on the Mabton School Board, Tovar adds, is also a way to give back to the community and school system that helped get him started in life.
"It's where I received my education," he says of Mabton. "It's a school district that I want to see in a positive light.