Because of the poverty of his Tarahumara village of Urique, after middle school he moved to the capital city of Chihuahua, Chihuahua to attend high school there. After graduating, he enrolled in the University of Chihuahua, completing two years training for a career in criminology, but that was all he could afford.
Later, he tried college again, this time entering a conservatory of music. Still, he could not continue, feeling obligated to work for his low- income family.
That’s when he learned about Canyon Scholars, and
thanks to our partnership with Lander Rotary in Wyoming, Elias resumed his studies and finally graduated as an expert technician in gasoline engines.
“A college degree like this is valuable for greater pay in Mexico, whatever field you end up in,” explained our Director of Student Relations in Mexico, Nancy Chacon. “Yet Elias found the pay in this field was not enough.”
Job placement is an increasing focus of the Next Generation of Canyon Scholars, and we’re learning from the stories of Elias and our other alumni.
“I’m making more money now as a translator for the Tarahumara in our capital city,” Elias explains. “When someone is in a government office, in a court, or seeking health insurance, they call me.” He also drives for the Mexican Uber service, DiDi, combining for more than a full-time schedule.
Still, he has time for some fun on the weekend. Staying in touch with his culture, and extending the musical tradition of the Tarahumaras, Elias leads a band he started called Los Aventados de Chihuahua (Chihuahua’s Adventurous,) as singer, and playing accordion and guitar.
Watch: 10 Tarahumara dancers and musicians joining him in this video, the dancing starts at 1:00.
An entrepreneurial jack-of-all-trades with growing expertise, Elias plans to also teach accordion lessons in the future, finding a way, as so many resourceful Latinos do on both sides of the border, to juggle family support and career advancement!
We are so proud and gratified to be part of Elias’ and his family’s life!