Youth Spotlight: Diana Loera
Written by: Tsvetelian Fuentes
Diana Loera has an important message for all of us: "Advocate for yourself, for your own education and your own life." A message that she lives by.
Diana arrived in the valley from Mexico 10 years ago. She was 12 years old, enrolled in EVMS, and had the hardest time. Everything was new and different, the buildings, the students, the grades, the language. During this transition, she never stopped advocating for herself - she would stay after class and always ask her teachers for help. She was at the top of her class in Mexico, and now her grades were not showing that, and she knew it was because she did not speak the language. After the struggles at school, she would go back home, where she had to help her siblings when mom and dad were working two jobs to support the family needs. They could not help her with the English assignments. She wanted to do well in school and knew she deserved a chance at an equitable education.
At Eagle Valley High School, Diana learned about how significant community involvement is and participated in the Cycle Effect and the Reading Buddies program at the Public Library. Her self-advocacy led to her advocating for others.
After high school, Diana got accepted at Colorado Mountain College and started her journey to obtain her teaching degree. She wanted to find a campus job because her family could not afford to help pay for her studies, so she persisted in asking her counselors for campus job opportunities. In time Diana became an ambassador and later a peer academic coach at TRIO Student Support Services. Trio helps first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities reach their full potential and achieve academic success. For a year and a half, Diana remained dedicated to her work and classes at CMC, spending 12 hour days at the building.
She decided it was time to look for a job opportunity in the community. Around that time, Bright Future Foundation posted a Youth Advisor position, and Diana was the perfect match. She was so grateful for her time at Bright Future Foundation, where many doors opened for her. She learned about all the organizations in the community and soon was promoted to Youth Violence Prevention Specialist.
In August of this year, Diana started her student teaching at Edwards Elementary School, and around the same time, she accepted the role of Tu Guia Coordinator. Tu Guia is a project of Mountain Youth where High School students from our valley apply to be tutors for students in elementary and middle school who are behind in academics due to English language development or a mental health challenge. Diana feels honored to be a part of Tu Guia alongside other youth leaders - Ana Garcia, Victoria Aragon, and Britney Chavez. Diana believes interactive teaching inspires, engages, and makes a difference for students and parents alike. One of the unique characteristics of Tu Guia is that the High School tutors are close in age to their students and understand what they are going through in school. What all involved value about Tu Guia is that tutors get to participate in trainings such as "The Fundamentals Of Tutoring, "5 Ways To Incorporate Social Emotional Learning In Your Teaching," and Mandatory reporting. This way, the youth (tutors and students) are empowered with knowledge and skills and create belonging. Diana has also coordinated a matching party for tutors and students at the Ice Rink in Eagle and planned parenting classes that focus on how parents can best support their children. The parenting workshops of Tu Guia expand the impact of education to multiple generations.
"There are not many authentic Spanish resources or workshops taught in a relevant way," Diana points out, and now she is an active part in coordinating those much-needed resources and classes. Her advocacy is yielding results and bringing change. Let's teach children in school to advocate for themselves. Let's broaden the mindset of parents from Hispanic heritage and have them understand how things work here, and teach parents to advocate too. Diana's advocacy is growing and becoming multi-layered, multi-generational, and multi-inspirational.