ELLENSBURG, Wash.- As the concluding event in its National Week of the Farmworkers, Central Washington University students who hail from farm-working backgrounds told some of their stories. Freshman Ramiro Casas, from Prosser, was among them. He discussed some of his experiences in harvesting apples, blueberries, cherries, and hops.

"Recently I was working 90 hour work weeks. I would be working from 7 p.m. til 10 a.m. and I was trying to finish homework between working. I had to work, I had to support my family, it was just my step dad and me working."

Casas added that the long hours contributed to the carpal tunnel syndrome he now experiences, which causes shooting pain in his arms and hands.

Areli Ruiz, a senior from Sunnyside, shared her firsthand experience about the hardships children from farm-working families can face when enrolling in school, including a potential language barrier. The Central Washington University student is now an advocate for those children since she was one of them.

"Being able to help educate them, in terms of providing that extra assistance, understanding where they come from and giving them that support that they need is really essential. It's not only shaped who I am today, it's also contributed to the career that I chose."

Ruiz, who has been employed in agricultural warehouse work, in now pursuing her education degree at Central, and will graduate this spring.

The Central online event was designed to provide a forum for other students, faculty, and staff to understanding more about the inequities and hardships that are faced by some members of the university community.

More From 610 KONA