Carmen Medina

Article and Photography by Ali Waxman

Born the middle child of an Army serviceman and a business executive in Cagunas, Puerto Rico, Carmen Medina learned early in life that hard work and dedication are two very important characteristics in a person. Finishing her education a year ahead of time, Medina credits that to her competitive and perfectionist personality.

After meeting her child’s father during her time at the University of Puerto Rico, the two married and moved to Harrisburg in 1978. Part of the reason they moved to the U.S. was because her husband (now ex) had lots of family in the area, and also, there were many more opportunities to further her career here than in Puerto Rico.

Her first job came as a math teacher in a Spanish community center. Due to her excellent work ethic and being able to translate Spanish to English, she was offered a job at the Dauphin County Courthouse as a criminal investigator/adult parole officer.

According to Medina, there just weren’t any state employees at the time that could translate information for parolees. There was a need for translations in court hearings, official letters and important communications. She also learned to fire weapons, was present at numerous arrests and her services were lent to the C.I.A., F.B.I. and D.E.A.

Currently, Medina is the manager of several after-school programs, in addition to her role as director of migrant education in Pennsylvania. She is in charge of assisting children who are at risk of failing due to the challenges of being a child of an immigrant.

Medina has created two residential programs to aid in this: one state-wide program is for middle school students, the other for high school students. She and her team selects the top 50 qualified students in the state and creates incentives that are beneficial to their future endeavors in college and beyond.

Medina and her staff are true advocates for the Latino community. They teach them life skills, educate them on the court system and create empowerment.

She is one who leads by example. Medina is interactive with not only her students, but also with the parents. She credits her passion to her upbringing and the love she received from her family.

When not working, Medina enjoys playing golf, has two grandchildren she adores, loves traveling, dancing and is an avid reader. She prefers the old-fashioned paper books to the new electronic readers.

Ali Waxman

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