Hiatt Middle School counselor Nancy Fregoso came to be in the Midwest the same way a lot of DMPS students did – her parents immigrated here. They arrived in Sioux City, SD, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1994. She says over the years, her parents’ citizenship status made planning a future difficult.
“They were undocumented up until I was 22, so I was under the impression that college was unattainable,” said the now first-generation college student. “Now, here I am with a master’s degree, working in the largest school district in Iowa.”
She said it wasn’t always easy growing up, but during her senior year she decided to pursue a degree beyond a high school diploma. Her parents couldn’t help her acclimate to college, but she said they did their best to support her emotionally. The University of South Dakota provided additional support and before long, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Counseling with a specialization in school counseling.
This year, USD’s alumni association is honoring Fregoso with a 30 Under 30 Award, recognizing outstanding young alumni who are making an impact in their professional and personal lives, and honoring their academic and professional achievements.
“I feel so grateful! One of my goals in life was to be recognized as a professional school counselor and the work that I do. School counseling is often a thankless job because we keep a lot of what we do private due to confidentiality and ethical standards we have to follow. Therefore, to be recognized is a huge deal!”
After finishing school, Fregoso applied to work for DMPS and is now in her fifth year – her first year assigned to Hiatt Middle School. She uses her expertise in child and adolescent development to work with students on social skills, executive functioning skills, conflict resolution, social-emotional education, psychoeducation, and help coordinate preventative behavioral interventions. School counselors are also the ‘frontline’ for mental health services within the school system.
With all of the school districts and private schools Fregoso had to choose from, she selected DMPS and then Hiatt Middle School for a special reason.
“Because I can relate to my students. I work at a school that serves 53% students who identify as Latinx. This is truly my dream school! I have always wanted to work in a district and a school where the kids look like me. And I am an educator who looks like them.”
Fregoso shares her life story with her students, hoping to inspire them to achieve anything they dream is possible just like she did.
As part of her 30 Under 30 award, U of SD staff have asked Fregoso to take over their social media account on Friday, December 16. Watch for her posts about life as a school counselor on the alumni association’s Instagram stories: @usdcoyotealumni