Portland Community College

PCC Foundation Portland Community College Foundation

Greg Contreras

Greg standing in a field of sunflowers
Made with love

Why is corn is an important part of Greg’s cultural heritage?

Whisk and spatula illustrated iconIn Mexico, corn is more than a staple. It is a cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life, and “the food with which the gods chose to feed mankind” according to Mexican folklore. Early farmers in Mexico domesticated corn 10,000 years ago, and the original plant was known as “teosinte.” Corn is now grown all over the world and is often referred to as humanity’s greatest agronomic achievement. In Oregon, the majority of sweet corn is grown in the Willamette Valley.

“Corn is very much part of my Hispanic cultural heritage. It leads to rich tortillas and tamales and other delicious foods as well as family gatherings and celebrations, which are also central to my culture.”
— Greg

“To the parents of migrant families, thank you for feeding the world. Sometimes we forget the sacrifices you and your families have made. I know these sacrifices because I, too, was raised in a migrant family. In the summer, me and my Grandpa Joaquin would pick seeds from tall corn stalks out in the blistering sun from dawn to dusk in eastern Oregon. As we worked side-by-side, my fingernails filling with dirt from the day’s labor, I could see a long life in the fields in the rough skin on my grandpa’s hands. I knew that education was the key to a new career path and life direction for me. Now, as an educator myself, your children are my students. I will not forget all you have done to help your kids succeed. When my students earn their degrees, it’s not just their accomplishment. It’s your accomplishment, too.”

— Greg

About Greg

Greg Contreras is the director of PCC’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a federally-funded initiative designed to assist first-year students from migrant and seasonal farmworker backgrounds with financial and support services during college. Through the PCC Foundation and generous donors, CAMP has raised an additional $55,000 to help its students.