Hooked from a young age

College & Career Readiness | 10/31/2018

Toya Fick
Executive Director, Stand for Children Oregon

Meet Elona, the newest Stand for Children leader having impact in a school near you. As a community organizer, Elona is the smiling face meeting with parents, students, community members and teachers alike in schools across Portland, helping them become effective advocates for the changes they need.

“As soon as I discovered my passion for teaching, development and empowerment, I was hooked,” she says.

Like most fellow native Oregonians, Elona thrives in the rain and lives in her Birkenstocks. She found her passion in education at an early age, teaching her siblings how to read. Her early years were marked by the instability – her mother faced multiple evictions and the family endured homelessness before Elona was taken in by a family in southeast Portland. She hit her stride at Franklin High School, where she was an Advanced Scholars mentor, 3-sport varsity athlete, an AP student and involved whenever she had a spare moment. Her senior year she was awarded scholarships such as the Ford Family Foundation which allowed her to attend Pacific University as a first-generation college student.

Elona’s commitment to her own education only deepened in college. In her years at Pacific, she became the youngest elected student body president, studied in Barcelona Spain, changed her major 11 times, joined the Rowing, Rugby and Handball teams and discovered her calling.

“I wanted to become an elementary school teacher, but through research and a better understanding of the public education system over time, I realized that wasn’t really my calling. Where I see corruption, I want to scrub it. Where our system falls short, I want to raise kids up.”

Elona wasted no time making an impact. She wrote an op-ed in the Oregonian calling for the support students need to thrive. She hit the ground running after graduation looking for a job where she could amplify her impact, and she stumbled up Stand for Children.

“I was always told that if I had a problem or complaint, I had to be part of the solution. Coming to Stand, and reaching out to help students who face the same challenges that I learned to overcome, is my way of being part of the solution so many students are clamoring for.”

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