Youth Peer Support Specialist | Marion County


Juanita was born in Veracruz, Mexico but grew up in Nogales Sonora. At the age of ten, she and her family moved to Mount Angel, Oregon. Her parents wanted to start fresh and build a better future for Juanita and her sister. Both of her parents worked long hours, leaving much of the care-taking responsibility to her older sister, Griselda.

When her family first moved to Oregon, Juanita was bullied by her classmates because she didn't yet speak English as a second language. After graduating from high school, Juanita moved to Portland to follow her dreams of becoming a social worker. While away from home, Juanita was sexually assaulted and spent a long time after feeling lonely and depressed. She tried to find refuge in alcohol but ultimately discovered that a real reason to keep living was her son. After she had her son, Juanita was able to go back to school and finish her Associates of Arts Oregon Transfer degree.

After graduating from Chemeketa Community College, Juanita started searching for a job that enables her to help young adults. She has always had a passion for supporting youth through tough situations because she doesn’t want young people ever to have to struggle as much as she did. Juanita's search ultimately led her to Youth Era, and as soon as she read the description and goals of a Youth Peer Support Specialist, she fell in love with the organization. Now, as part of the Youth Era team, Juanita hopes to help young adults by supporting them through their struggles so they can lead successful lives. She looks forward to seeing all the things young people will achieve when they find what all they can do for themselves.

Juanita enjoys spending time with her one-year-old son. In their free time, they love going on adventures and making memories. On weekends they enjoy the weather and go on hikes together. She also likes dancing and trying new foods. She is also a very open person; she loves meeting new people and learning about their cultures.