In high school, Astrid Villalobos sought out opportunities that would launch her career in sustainability, not realizing that would happen far sooner than she expected.
Like many Latino children in America, Villalobos grew up helping her monlingual Spanish-speaking family navigate an English-speaking world.
Villalobos’ family owns Guacamole’s Mexican Restaurant in Longmont. When they opened and throughout her life, her parents depended on her to translate for them.
Her involvement in her family’s business didn’t stop there. Villalobos remembers having to help her parents understand important documents and complex conversations as a child, even when she didn’t understand them herself.
“I totally understand what it is like to be totally monolingual Spanish speakers who have no clue how to get started in some of the process and regulation that businesses have to follow,” Villalobos said. “Being a child, and being young and just having to support your parents through that I 100% understand how most Latinx businesses in the community tend to feel if they don’t have any type of support.”
Villalobos said being a child dealing with adult topics was difficult but she and many others have had to be that intermediary because monolingual parents struggle to understand. In part, it fueled her as an adult to become more involved in her community.
Having had these experiences and being interested in sustainability prompted Villalobos to seek volunteer opportunities with the city of Longmont in the Sustainability Program. Within two months, Villalobos was offered a part-time position, she still holds today as a college student at Front Range Community College.
Through the Sustainability Program, Villalobos connected with area chambers of commerce, including the Latino Chamber of Boulder County and joined the Longmont Chamber Student Network.
“I love working in community service, supporting especially underrepresented communities and folks in the business sector,” Villalobos said.
In particular, Villalobos enjoys being a liaison between businesses, the city of Longmont and other supportive organizations within the community.
“I know that if my parents went through then there are multiple families dealing with those struggles and challenges,” Villalobos said.
As a community leader and an employ for the city, Villalobos makes a point to follow up with community members throughout the process of helping them reach their goals. She wants to build trust within the community and encourage more Latinx business owners to be successful in Longmont, not frustrated by forms and processes.
Villalobos has used the lessons of her life to broker economic and social change into the Latinx community. As she works to bring more sustainable practices to the city, she also influences Hispanic businesses to apply and make these changes by building trust and understanding within the community.
“I feel like it is important for folks to be aware of this information so that they, along with the rest of the Longmont community, can have the same opportunities to succeed in their businesses or even succeed in their community,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos wants to go to law school and study corporate law after her time at FRCC.
“Above anything, I want to keep working in the government because even though our municipality is small, we effect everyone around us. The decisions that are made in our government effect business owners, effect our community members and they impact everyone on a daily basis,” she shared.