Thank You to My Elementary School Teachers for Molding Me into the Civically Engaged, Strong Willed, Educated Woman That I Am Today

Since this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to and say “Thank You” to all my Elementary School teachers. I believe from the bottom of my heart that the teachers at South Ranchito Elementary School are some of the best EDUCATORS in the world. They are the true unsung heroes of our community.

I want to begin by saying “Thank You” to Miss Brunie because back in Pre-School, I was a little stubborn, and I really needed someone to put my name pin in the red face because that simple motion taught a big lesson for life: negative actions lead to negative consequences.

“Thank You” to Mrs. Cordova because she encouraged and fostered in me a love for reading that continues to this day.

“Thank You” to Mrs. Hernandez who taught me the phrase “Ponte las Pilas” and never allowed me to fall into a fixed mindset. Before coming to UC Riverside, I read through some of my old elementary report cards, and they were filled with some of the most beautiful comments I had ever read. Ironically, back in the day, I was not the best student, and I lacked confidence. Still, simply based on some of the comments my teachers made, it amazes me to realize just how much they believed in me and the power of positive reinforcement.

“Thank You” to Ms. De La Loza because she did more than encourage a love for writing, but she also gave me the opportunity to read the stories I wrote about Magical Mermaids to my 2nd-grade class. Little did I know back then that this was all a part of developing my own voice and planting the seed of possibility. If one day I publish my own book, I will know where it all started thanks to her class.

“Thank You” Mrs. Zepeda, because even after all these years of being a student, one of my greatest memories was when I was the first student in her class to memorize my multiplication facts by heart. This wasn’t  even a matter of intelligence, but rather because she invested her time and allowed me to stay after school and recite them to her for weeks before we had the class competition. I still have the medal she gave me and if I am ever part of “Time 100: The most influential people of whichever year” in the future, I hope she knows  that it is because she showed me that you can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.

“Thank You” to Mr. Hernandez because I have never put in as much work in any class in my K-12 years than in his. It was during a research assignment on the “2008 Presidential Elections,” that I first became civically engaged and politically aware. I remember going into our local library and checking out a really thick book on the candidates. I also spent endless hours watching the Presidential debates and making a pro and con list to every single candidate with my innocent view of the world. I suppose it’s not a surprise I am now so involved with politics and have my own aspirations to one day serve in public office.

“Thank You” Mr. Ponciano because he was the first person to tell me I could go to college. I remember when he had a parent-teacher conference with my mom and he shared his excitement towards all the things that I would one day accomplish in college. That is the first real conversation that planted the idea of college in my mind. Now, being more than 90% done with my undergraduate courses and planning to pursue a masters in public policy, Juris Doctorate, and a Ph.D,. I know that it was that moment that helped transform my journey to where I am today.

And “Thank You” to all the other elementary teachers who have also left footprints in the lives of so many other students. I have had the pleasure of having many amazing teachers, but looking back, I know that the mold of who I am and what I believe in was all founded in those first couple of years. This month and always, remember just how influential you are and know that your words of encouragement, your unconditional support and your dedication, are not taken for granted. It make take some us of getting to college to finally realize just how lucky we were to be in your classes, but know that sooner or later, we all recognize it.

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Biane Arias

Biane Arias

Biane Arias is a first-generation student at the University of California-Riverside. Biane is extremely proud to be from Pico Rivera, California. She is a Political Science with an emphasis in Public Service major. Biane credits the amazing teachers and staff of the El Rancho Unified School District for helping her succeed and realize her passion for politics. Biane is an aspiring Public Servant, and Attorney. At UCR, Biane works at Undergraduate Admissions, and she previously worked at EAOP and the Moreno Valley Unified School District. Currently, Biane is a part of IGNITE's Southern California College Council.

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