Amador alumni Cindy Tovar returns as new wellness counselor on-campus


Mandy Wong

Cindy Tovar encourages all students to visit the wellness center, open daily from 8 to 4.

As wellness counselor Cindy Tovar settles into her chair, she can’t help but breathe in the calm around her. Tucked in the library’s hallway, Tovar manages the Wellness Center at Amador. More than anything, it’s a place for students to relax, have a breather, and just pause to take some time for themselves. And as the presence that oversees it all, Tovar makes sure that the room is always ready to welcome in the students who trickle in throughout the day, with teabags, comfortable seats, and a cheery wave for you.

As a student, Tovar had to balance school and work starting at eight years old. The challenges she faced back then have fed back to inspire her goals now of making each student’s day a little bit brighter.

“Unfortunately, there were challenges financially back in my house, so I feel like I grew up a little bit faster than a lot of students,” said Tovar. “But if I look at the bright side, it made me a better person. With all the struggles I went through and all the difficulties, it was hard for me to pull it all together… [it was] with thanks to a bunch of great people that I was able to figure out what I wanted to do, which was to come back somewhere like this.”

Since English was her second language, Tovar was in the dual immersion program at Valley View and Pleasanton Middle School. By the time she arrived at Amador, even though she had become more fluent, she still hesitated to jump straight into the regular English classes. In the end, she found a middle ground by enrolling in a class taught by Ms. Johnson that served students who spoke other languages.

“Ms. Johnson [was] my teacher basically all four years, and she was the one that gave me my diploma. I picked her because I had such a great connection with her, and she was one of the people that actually would push me to be more successful… She was a counselor, mentor, everything to me,” said Tovar. “ I’d always come back and say things to her, because she’s ultimately one of the reasons why I did sign up for college – because of her, because she took the time out of her day, which she didn’t have to.”

It wasn’t her academic counselor, but Johnson, who guided Tovar, a first generation college student, through the college process for Las Positas. The difficulty in finding guides on how to file FAFSA, knowing key information like the importance of timing when scheduling classes, and more numbered some of the issues that confronted Tovar.

“I didn’t know all this other help and support that was open to me. I hope that I can give that information up to students that don’t know that there’s all that help and support here [because] being in a big school and with so many extracurricular activities, juggling homework, studying and tests, you don’t always know everything that’s open to you, like the career center. Maybe you don’t know that there’s counseling – not just counseling when you’re sad, it’s counseling for everything, like for your career or for testing.. so hopefully, I can be like an open gateway to them going to the counseling office,” said Cindy Tovar.

Coming back to Amador has been early days yet, but it’s quickly become familiar to Cindy Tovar once again – this time as a staff member, and not a student. In the future, Tovar has plans to continue expanding the wellness center with student-led yoga sessions, an anonymous message box, and workshops hosted by clubs and invited speakers like athletes and musicians.

“When I first came in… I saw a lot of kids coming in and different scenarios. It opened my eyes, seeing that a lot of students do really need and should get this center. Hopefully down the line, I can make it grow and take advantage of everything to make it better for all the students,” said Tovar.

Whether it’s student-to-student or student-to-counselor connections, Tovar is committed to making the wellness center a safe place where students can come and find no judgement. She encourages anyone, no matter how unconfident they may feel, to step in and give it a try.

 “[I know] if you have your own peers being a part of the center, it’d probably be more comfortable and feel more welcoming to a lot of different students in different groups. In high school, you tend to get a little clique-y, so if you see a different variety and diversity in the center, it’ll be great for [people] to know that even their own friends and their own peers are participating themselves,” said Cindy Tovar.