Born in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, Daniela Elguea came to the U.S. as a five year old and grew up in East Los Angeles attending LAUSD schools. She didn’t speak English when she came to the U.S., but by the time she reached high school, she was doing well at Wilson High School in El Sereno. She was involved in drill team, extracurricular activities, and participated in the AVID program.
At Wilson High School, Daniela met her counselor, Ms. Lam, who helped change the course of her life. While Daniela’s parents wanted her to attend college, they didn’t know much about the application process, so she had to rely on her counselor to help guide her. Daniela volunteered as a service student for Ms. Lam and worked closely with the counseling office as a high school student, and at time, she realized how much she liked working with other students. She would gravitate toward English language learners (ELL) because she could identify with the struggles of those students.
“I got into counseling because of that experience with Ms. Lam, and at the time, I thought that I was going to work with ELL students,” Daniela said.
Because Wilson is a large public high school, Daniela felt that she had to fend for herself when it came time to apply for college. So she relied on Ms. Lam and the college center for help in the application process. Daniela was the first among her friends to go to college until the rest of her peer group caught up with her.
Daniela credits Ms. Lam and the AVID coordinator at Wilson High School for pushing her to apply to college. She found her way to California State University, Northridge, and she studied counseling and Chicano studies. As she approached college graduation, she returned to Wilson to work with Ms. Lam in counseling to satisfy her need for hours. She loved the experience, and Ms. Lam encouraged Daniela to go back and earn a master’s degree in the school counseling leadership program at California State University, Los Angeles. This degree would prepare her to be a school counselor. Before completing her master’s degree, Daniela again returned to Wilson High School to earn more service hours working with Ms. Lam.
Ms. Lam was a strong mentor to Daniela always informing her about resources and job opportunities. Aside from her parents, Daniela credits Ms. Lam and the AVID coordinator who she had at Wilson as a high school student for pushing her through the educational process in her undergraduate and graduate education.
“In terms of logistics and getting to college, Ms. Lam and my AVID coordinator were very instrumental to me,” Daniela said.
Daniela’s professional experience involves working as an elementary school counselor, a middle school counselor, a mental health clinic in South Los Angeles, and now she works at Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High School in Los Angeles, which is a charter school. She worked in some tough environments prior to landing at Alliance, but currently, she’s guiding high school students through the college application process.
“With a lot of my students, I feel that I can relate to them and share my experiences. I share my story about being a first generation college student and tell my students that if I can do it, they can do it too,” Daniela said.
The Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High School is a good fit for Daniela because she is supported in her job and gets to work with students on their academic goals as well as their personal, social, and emotional needs. A lot of her time on the job is spent with seniors who are preparing to leave to college.
For now, Daniela sees herself staying in the counseling realm. She’s not interested in moving into administration or another role in education.
“I’m an educator at heart. I don’t want to be an administrator. As a counselor, I feel that I get to closely impact the students so for now, I don’t feel like doing anything else but counseling,” Daniela said.
For her care and dedication to her students, we honor Daniela as a luchadora.
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