’21 Ag Education grad bridges cultures, opens doors for Spanish speakers

Rodrigo Ascencio
Rodrigo Ascencio (right, with his wife Dana Ascencio), new graduate in Agricultural and Food Systems, helped Spanish speakers access ag-education lessons as a student teacher.

Fall 2021 Ag Education graduate Rodrigo Ascencio was drawn to agriculture by a happy accident.

Moving from El Salvador at age 7, Ascencio grew up in the United States. As a teen, he took a high school class on biotechnology.

“In my head, I thought it would be a class about bionic legs,” Ascencio said. “It turned out that it was an ag class, where we learned about the amazing world of agriculture.”

That science class sparked an interest that grew through college. Ascencio moved to the U.S., and enrolled at WSU, earning his bachelor’s degree this fall in Agricultural and Food Systems. He is now starting his career as an agricultural educator.

“It’s a necessity to teach people about agriculture and how much it matters to our everyday lives,” says Ascencio.

During his student teaching experience, Ascencio used his bilingual skills to adapt lessons for students who speak Spanish. This gave him valuable knowledge for his teaching career, and help make his future classroom a more welcoming, inclusive place.

“It’s always hard to communicate without knowing the language, and I hope to be a medium for those communities to communicate and succeed for the growth agriculture.”

In his own way, Ascencio has broadened the doors of agriculture thanks to his background and culture.

“I’ve had many students of color talk to me and saying how cool it was for them to have a teacher of color,” he said.

“As an immigrant to the United States and a first-generation college graduate, I believe it’s important to know that with hard work and dedication, you can better yourself and your future,” Ascencio said. “It might not be easy, but it is rewarding.”

Post-graduation, he will work at Pullman High School, and is excited to remain a part of the Pullman community.

“To other Cougs, I’ll say this: don’t get tunnel vision,” Ascencio said. “There’s a purpose for all the classes and all the paperwork. Be thankful for your teachers, they are there to help. Also, go Cougs!”