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Esperanza Ascending: A Letter To My Mentor

Yelena Bivian

To: Mrs. Lopez

“For every one of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out. The light doesn’t always necessarily have to be in your family; for me, it was teachers and school.”
– Oprah Winfrey

We all have gone through an abundance of teachers in our academic life. Some have made us question our interest in academics while others, the ones that make an impact in our life. They are the once that nourish not only on an academic level but on a personal level. They are the educators that we as students will forever be in debt with for being patient, caring, but most importantly understanding.

For me, that person was Mrs. Lopez

I meet Mrs. Lopez when I first enrolled in the Migrant Education program in my hometown of Lynwood. I was in the second grade and my mom told me I was going to summer school with the Migrant program. I was upset. I didn’t want to go but nevertheless, when the day came I got up bright and early and made my way there.

Mrs. Lopez took me along with the rest of the Migrant Ed. Students to Cal State Long Beach for Writer’s Camp during the summer. I remembered her saying that we had to pretend to be older than we really were so that we could be able to go. We did and what I experienced at this camp changed my life. It was there at this summer camp that my love for writing and literature blossomed. I was fascinated. I didn’t think that I could produce stories like the ones I obsessed over from the borrowed books I had. Every summer I looked forward to that camp. While others dreaded summer school I longed to be there writing and making up worlds for myself and my characters.

As I got older she helped me come out of my shell and explore my passions. She introduced us to various art programs that gave me the opportunity to create art. I could play with pastels and paints and I loved it. She organized trips to explore San Diego and Santa Barbara places that I am convinced I would not have explored if it wasn’t for her. Mrs. Lopez sacrificed her summers, her weekends, and even holidays to be with us; taking us on various programs and simply interacting with us.

These programs helped me achieve academic success. I was able to use what I had learned and applied it to my academics. The summers spent in Writer’s Camp help me become a better writer which helped me in my English classes making it easier for me to formulate ideas and express those ideas on paper. When I made the decision to come to the University of Redlands, I called her, excited to tell her the good news and to thank her for her investment in my education. In that phone call, I promised to send her an invitation to my graduation to come see me walk across the stage in April 2019.

Unfortunately, that promise will not be upheld.

I was informed that Mrs. Lopez passed away.

I was crushed.

I never thought she would have such an impact on my life. I didn’t have the time nor the proper place to thank her for everything. So with tears in my eyes and blurry vision, I wish you farewell.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for encouraging me to go into the humanities.

Thank you for allowing me to explore my interests.

Thank you for everything you did not only for me but for my family, my community, the Migrant Program, everyone.
Mrs. Lopez dedicated her work to the well being of others putting herself on the back burner. Her dedication to the Migrant Education Program helped so many of us. It was truly a blessing having you in my life.

Although I am not religious, I would say you really were God sent.

My fondest memory of Mrs. Lopez was when she gave me one of my favorite books Esperanza Rising. I was amazed that a girl that looked and talked like me was the main character in a book. I still have that book and I consider it to be one of my prized possessions.

Esperanza means hope and you, Mrs. Lopez like Esperanza in the book gave me hope.

Rest in Peace Mrs. Esperanza Lopez

If you have a favorite teacher or someone that had a great impact on your education get in touch with them you never know when they might be gone!

Author: Yelena Bivian

Yelena, most commonly known as Yeli is a proud first-generation Mexican-American student currently enrolled at the University of Redlands as a junior. Her bilingual upbringing motivated her to pursue a double major in English Literature and Spanish as well as a minor in Philosophy. Influenced by her community, Yelena aspires to go into publishing and pursue writing.

When she isn’t drowning in essays or partaking in philosophical debates, she enjoys reading, listening to music too loud for her ears, running and working out.


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