A Student Success Scholarship is Helping Her Achieve Her Dreams
By: Jeff Nazzaro
Ana Lorena Kanagui Leal graduated from a Mexican university, earned her teacher’s certification, and arrived in the United States in 1986, with the dream of teaching children in a California classroom. But, in order to accomplish that, she would have to take more classes and convert her certifications to meet California credential standards. When she and her family first arrived here, time and money would not permit her to do that so to support her family, Ana Lorena put her dreams on hold and went to work full-time in packing and juicing companies.
“Ana came to the US with a dream to teach…”
“I never thought twice about this sacrifice because I did what I needed to do to ensure my four kids had everything they needed. However, I never let go of my dream of fulfilling my career goals by teaching children in a formal capacity,” said Ana. “In early 2000, I decided to open up my home-based child care center with the help of a good friend. Now, I have been a child care provider for more than 20 years, offering services to hundreds of families who have sought quality care. But I have never lost sight of my dream of one day, getting my United States teaching credential.”
Enter UCR University Extension’s Academic Director of Child and Adolescent Development, Dr. Guillermina Hernandez, who served up advice and guidance to Ana while she was taking various professional development courses. “Through Dr. Guillermina, I have been able to work toward fulfilling my dream of obtaining units in child development. However, part of the program requires I take general classes as a requirement to obtain my diploma as a teacher in primary education,” said Ana.
Once again, along the way on Ana’s journey, timing and money were the problem. “As I was making headway with my classes, COVID hit. The pandemic has been very challenging for me and my family as I lost the majority of children in my daycare and thus, my income has decreased significantly,” Ana shared. Dr. Hernandez encouraged her to apply for a Student Success Scholarship, an endowment created by the Director of Education Emeritus, Dr. Sue Teele.
“The pandemic was financially challenging, and Dr. Guillermina Hernandez encouraged Ana to apply for a Student Success Scholarship…”
Dr. Teele spent 32 years in UCR University Extension, and is a deep believer in the power of education. “Financial hardship shouldn’t be a roadblock for educators to continue their professional development—which ultimately benefits their students, our next generation of leaders,” Dr. Teele believes. When Dr. Teele retired, she set up a scholarship fund dedicated to helping teachers. Ana applied for and was awarded a scholarship, enabling her to keep working toward her California teaching credential.
Thanks to Dr. Teele’s scholarship, I am one step closer to realizing my goal, and I was able to take a course to learn more about how to best serve students with special needs,” said Ana, who went on to say, “I have been able to transfer some of my teaching credits from Mexico and apply them toward my AA degree in the United States. I am working hard to eventually become a teacher in this country, and I won’t stop until I get there. It’s my hope that one day, I will help ease the teacher shortage in California.”
“Financial hardship shouldn’t be a roadblock for educators…”
We asked Ana if there was anything she’d like to say to Dr. Teele about receiving her scholarship, and here’s what she wrote:
“Dr. Teele—I am beyond grateful for the scholarship you have awarded me. The pandemic has been challenging for our family and both my husband and I have worked limited hours. I appreciate your support, and will never forget your generosity. I hope that you continue to support students like me who want to realize their dreams at any age, and at any point in their career. Your scholarship has allowed me to give the best that I have to give, and reach for what many would consider impossible. Thank you again.”
We’d like to thank YOU, Ana, for being a shining example to all those working toward a dream; for not being discouraged by bumps in the road; and for never giving up!