Belginy is a second-year student at Century College, where she studies Early Elementary Education. She is also the president of Movimiento LatinX, through which she helped organize a celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month. She just started last semester with Math Corps; she plans to teach elementary school and ultimately become a principal.
What led you to become a tutor with Math Corps?
My brother is the reason why I want to become a tutor and ultimately a teacher or principal. I’ve always been a second mom to him, and I’ve always helped him with his homework. Also, my whole life, I’ve always been involved in working with people and helping with people. I am a Sunday school teacher and I am also a youth leader at my church. It’s always been something that I love.
My principal introduced me to the students and referred to me as Ms. Lopez. The fact that they called me Ms. Lopez makes me know that I’m getting closer to my dream of becoming an educator. I’m genuinely so thankful that I’m a part of Math Corps and to serve with the people I do.
What makes you excited to serve with Math Corps?
I’m just so excited to see the growth of the students. I know right now some of them need extra support. I get that. I was there. I went to a Spanish immersion school for K-3, so I learned in Spanish. When I went to a public school in fourth grade, I was nowhere near a fourth grade reading level in English. My teacher dedicated so much time to helping me, and I even surpassed that level at the end of the year. I hope that I can be that for the students and help them be where they’re supposed to be.
You’ve mentioned that you want to be a principal. What draws you to that role?
As a teacher, I’ll be helping the kids and I’ll also learn about what they need. As a principal, I’ll be able to apply that. At the level of principal, I could do even more for the kids. I’m a person with a lot of goals. Once I reach one goal, I like to ask, what’s my next goal?
Also, only about 1% of teachers in MN are Latinx/e, and at the administrative level, there’s even less. There needs to be more principals of color because all the needs are not being met for students of color. I know at that level I could keep doing more to help break barriers and introduce new solutions.
Being bilingual yourself, what’s it been like working with bilingual students?
When I first met the students, I saw the way that they got excited when they learned I’m bilingual. I think in Spanish and English, and I’ve been translating my whole life. They know I get that. I know what it’s like to not know how to say something in one language, but know it in another. I can tell that they’re getting comfortable, not just the Latinx/e students, but other students who are growing up in immigrant households.
Could you share more about your leadership in Movimiento LatinX at Century College?
I’m the president of Movimiento LatinX, which is a student organization at Century College that works to celebrate and promote education in Latinx/e culture. We hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month speaker event to connect our students with lots of different organizations and a panel of experts who spoke about breaking barriers in education. We’re also creating a campaign about being first-generation and Latinx/e, which will represent people who are the first in their family to study in the U.S., or the first to go to college. The thought behind the campaign is, we are the first generation, and we won’t be the last.
So that’s my motivation, too. I’m the first, but I will not be the last, and I’ll make sure of it. And I want to be part of the solution and help break barriers.
You’re involved in so much on campus, plus classes. How do you balance it all?
I worked with my site to make a schedule that fits with my school, my studies, and my other leadership things. Everybody at the school is great.
I will say it is a little hard, but it’s not impossible. My mom always says there’s a solution to everything, and it’s true. I love serving, I love helping. I like being a leader. I have it all down to what I prioritize.
My family is my fuel. My family always believed in me, always, always. Working towards being an educator is a big deal to me because I’m going to be the first to be a professional in my family. I’m also doing it for my brother who needs to know that yeah, we can do it.
Sandy Pulles (ServeMinnesota’s VP of Equity and Inclusion) also really motivates me. I met her when I was interning at LatinoLEAD. I want to be an example for others – and she’s my example. She’s doing a lot of work for our community and in the education system. That’s kind of what I want to do but in a different way. If she can do it, I can do it. She’s checked in on me and been really supportive.
At the end of the day, what makes me want to cry is being able to be in that classroom and being able to work one-on-one with kids. I’m just excited to be there.