The amazing support and encouragement the bilingual students of EJE Academies Charter School receive is an education far different from my experience growing up in Texas, where being fluent in any language other than English was seen as negative. I started first grade when I was almost eight years old not knowing any English, instead speaking Spanish mixed with some “Texican” slang. As time passed, I became embarrassed of my native language and being constantly reminded I was different. The obstacles I faced growing up with the South made me a strong woman with a zest to overcome challenges and a passion to be involved in politics ensuring justice for underrepresented people.
After receiving a Bachelors of Science in Psychology at the University of Houston, my career and volunteer work centered around my support for education and social justice issues. Before retiring, I served as a College Counselor and Advisor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. My time in the Ethnic Studies Department taught me the real history and experience of the United States in the past 500 years, information and events I had not learned about in my public education. As a counselor, I supported mostly students of color with their education and career goals, encouraging them to use the knowledge they gained in Ethnic Studies as a foundation for their work when they served their communities after graduation. While at UCSD, I received the Community Champion Award for “outstanding efforts in furthering the spirit of diversity, equal opportunity, and affirmative action at UC San Diego”. I have spent many years being an active volunteer with many education, parent advocacy and community-based organizations throughout San Diego. Most notably I was one of the co-founders of the North Park Soccer League, serving as the PTA President of San Diego High School and Vice President of Hilltop Elementary in Chula Vista and being recognized for my service and awarded the Barrio Logan Latina/o Unity Coalition Award.
My own history as a child growing up in segregated communities where bilingualism and culture were not valued makes EJE Academies so important to me. As the newest member of the EJEA Board, I am motivated to continue promoting a strong and inclusive community for our students. I have seen first hand how a child can be negatively impacted growing up in an environment where adults lack an open heart and mind. Without una buena educacíon (a good education), they continue to be a part of a cycle founded on negative beliefs. I can confidently say the students of EJEA are nurtured by teachers, mentors and volunteers who work tirelessly to positively shape their lives so they may become the just, future leaders our country deserves. My vision for our future includes the graduates of EJEA leading us towards a less divided society, creating a world where there is an understanding and appreciation of different cultures.