Bilingual family support specialist Cori Pardo has walked far more than a mile in her clients’ shoes.
In 1999, Pardo – then an 11-year-old girl – and her mother immigrated to the United States from Mexico. The transition was a difficult one for Pardo, as it is for many new residents.
“A lot of times, you don’t know about things, about the help that’s available,” remembered Pardo. Things like free and discounted medical care, credit counseling, educational assistance and other support. Pardo’s parents didn’t speak English, which further limited the family’s ability to access resources.
Being matched with a mentor in the 7th grade changed the course of Pardo’s life. The woman, with whom Pardo continues a close relationship, dispensed advice and homework assistance, linked the family with available community resources, and helped Pardo learn about and apply for college scholarships.
“She taught me that everything is possible,” said Pardo.
At the University of Oklahoma, Pardo studied political science “because the government makes the decisions in the world.” But she was inspired by her mentor to pursue a career at Family & Children’s Services. Pardo joined the team in October 2012, nearly 10 months after becoming a U.S. citizen. She helps families of children enrolled in the Eastgate and Rosa Parks Head Start and Early Head Start programs improve their parenting skills, secure community resources, set and meet personal goals, and build brighter futures for their families. Many of the families on her caseload are new to the country or don’t speak English.
Pardo considers it a privilege to help people with challenges similar to those she and her family faced. “I’m pretty lucky to be able to be here,” said Pardo. “I’m able to help other families achieve the American dream.”
Family & Children’s Services is currently hiring bilingual family support specialists. Click here to get more inforamtion on available positions or to apply online.