Big Bend Community College student Gabriela Oliva is a recipient of the 2015 Heroes for Life award from the Inland Northwest Blood Center.
Oliva has spearheaded the Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive at BBCC the last two years as President of BBCC’s M.E.Ch.A. Club. The project increased awareness in the Hispanic/Latino community about donating blood and participating in the bone marrow registry.
The blood drive resulted in blood donations of 46 pints in 2014 and 44 pints in 2015. In 2014, 60 percent of the blood donors were Hispanic/Latino. In 2015, 75 percent of the donors were Hispanic/Latino.
“The number of Hispanics on the bone marrow registry is smaller relative to other ethnic groups,” Oliva said. “The registry is used to find matches for patients who need bone marrow transplants.”
Oliva will graduate from BBCC this spring and transfer to Washington State University. She was accepted to universities as an honor graduate from Lind/Ritzville High School, but she enrolled at BBCC because she was undecided about her major.
“I am thinking about studying pharmacy, or a related medical or health care field,” she said. “The TRiO Program at BBCC has helped me put together a plan for transferring to a university.”
Among her five siblings is a sister, Griselda Valencia, who this spring was accepted to BBCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program.
They are both on track to be the first in their family to earn a college degree.
“Education will be our way out of poverty,” Oliva said.