From the Pueblo to College: The Journey of Two Rural Students



For students who choose to go to college, where they come from can be a big predictor of their ability to succeed in higher education. Rural students don’t go to college in the same numbers that their urban or suburban peers do. And for rural students of color whose families or communities are of limited means, the numbers are even lower. But there are many success stories—and Education Week wanted to tell one.


For several months in 2019, Education Week followed two college-bound students—Temeya Gachupin and Justin Madalena—who come from the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico, so that we could tell their personal and academic stories.


Filming inside the Pueblo of Jemez is forbidden by outsiders. By special permission Education Week was granted limited access to the community, its schools, and the homes of the two families.








Chapter 1

‘Not giving up on school’

Temeya Gachupin attends Walatowa High Charter School, which is run by the Pueblo of Jemez; and Justin Madalena attends the Jemez Valley High School, which is a traditional district school. Both have their sights set on college. If these seniors enroll and do well, they will beat the odds for students from rural schools, communities of color, and families of limited means.








Chapter 2

‘I’m going to miss her’

Valedictorians of their classes, Temeya and Justin prepare to leave for college, aware of the challenges past and present. Justin says he sometimes felt like giving up in high school, and Temeya knows it will be hard deciding between the demands of school and the need to be home for “traditional stuff.”








Chapter 3

‘A home to come back to’

Temeya and Justin and their Jemez Pueblo community consider what it takes to adjust to college life and what success will demand of them.








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Video Credits:
Researched by Maya Riser-Kositsky
Reported by Elizabeth Rich
Produced by Elizabeth Rich & Emma Patti Harris
Filmed & Edited by Erin Irwin

Special thanks to the Pueblo of Jemez

Lead Image: Erin Irwin/Education Week

Web Design/Development: Hyon-Young Kim & Gina Tomko

Coverage of the experiences of low-income, high-achieving students is supported in part by a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, at www.jkcf.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.