“In high school, I was very lazy; I expected things to be handed to me,” stated STC student, Valeria del Torro.  “I really did not care about school; I just wanted to pass and graduate. My senior year of high school, I did not want to apply for college anywhere out of the fear of rejection. My fear of rejection, laziness, and procrastination took the best of me. I did not apply anywhere I really wanted to go.” Many of her friends left to go to large colleges while she stayed not knowing what her path looked like and not having the slightest idea of what exactly she wanted to do with her life. Her first semester of college at STC was particularly challenging.

One person who really helped her through her college experience and decisions was her CTN English professor, Mrs. Angelica Cerda, whose passion to teach, her interaction with her students, and her words of encouragement motivated Valeria to be better and push forward for her lifetime goals and career.

“My time in her English 1301 class, and being in the program, gave me motivation to open my mind, look for my talents, and not be afraid of rejection or failure because that is what makes a person aware and wise,” Valeria commented.

Professor Cerda explained that what makes her job complete and come full-circle is when she can help guide her students outside of the classroom. “To be honest, more that 50% of the time mentoring and advising is non- academic,” Cerda stated. Most of her students really struggle with extrinsic issues, such as personal problems, money, and relationships. She has learned that students know that there are so many resources for them when it comes to academic issues; but when it comes to dealing with personal issues, they lack the skills to resolve these. This is not to say that she does not help them academically, because that is part of her job. “What I am saying is when we serve as intrinsic motivators to our students,” Cerda commented, “it many times has helped them resolve their issues and problems- personal, and academic.”

Being able to mentor not only her student Valeria Del Toro, but other students, is something that has made Cerda love her job even more. “Now that I tell my students that I am a doctoral student, they feel more able to relate and comfortable to share their struggles with me, because I share mine with them. I have created a “Coffee Station” in my office. I invest $10.00 every couple of months, and my students know that they’re welcome to stop by my office to make them themselves a cup of coffee anytime. It has really helped to reel them in and have nice chats with them, but most importantly, I get to advise and mentor them,” she added.

Professor Angelica Cerda comes from a very humble upbringing. Her grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all farm workers, including her mother. Cerda was the first to graduate from college in her family after her father’s sister. She states that what really got her to where she is now is the way her parents raised her and her siblings. She was taught by her parents to not depend on the government or anybody to get things done and to work hard for what they wanted. Even though her family was made up of immigrants and lived through racism, they never had an attitude of victimization. Her parents taught her that racism could only affect them if they let it get to them, because it was not really a physical barrier that could stop them from getting an education, and in fact, it did not. Out of five siblings, there are four college graduates with post- graduate degrees.

“Mrs. Cerda is someone that I will always look up to because of her passion and desire to see her students succeed, and that is a quality not many professors have,” stated Valeria.

Because of Professor Cerda’s motivation, I decided to apply to the local four-year university, UTRGV; I wanted to finish my basics there. Now, after two semesters at UTRGV, I will be applying this coming fall to the University of Texas at Austin and University of Houston, to pursue a career in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. I do not know if I will stay in UTRGV or end up leaving like I wish, but if doors are open to leave and continue my education, to get more experience in my studies and get internships in a bigger city, that is what I will do,” she added.



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