Gloria Sevilla ‘20 Francisco Jiménez Scholar Prize Winner Update
As a junior Gloria Sevilla was awarded the Francisco Jiménez Scholar Prize. This award recognizes outstanding accomplishment by a rising senior, first-generation student who represents Prof. Jiménez’s indefatigable passion for learning and compassion for others. Gloria has since graduated from SCU and is beginning the next major step in her life. This is her story.
“My acceptance to Santa Clara University was one of the happiest moments of my life and one of the most terrifying. As a first-generation student from the Central Coast, moving to Northern California for four years was a considerable change. I remember the day when one of my high school teachers approached me and spoke to me about Dr. Francisco Jiménez, and I realized how my background was similar to his; a first-generation college student from an immigrant BIPOC community who moved from the Central Coast and studied at Santa Clara University. This was reassuring to me because knowing that someone from my community had achieved such outstanding accomplishments, inspired me to believe that I could do the same.
I was then very excited when I met Dr. Jiménez in person during the conference for first-year LEAD Scholars, where he talked to us about his book, Reaching Out. He told us that he believed that each one of us would achieve our dreams. After the talk ended, I went up to greet and thank him, I started crying tears of joy, and in between the tears, I shared that I could vividly remember the road trip to get to SCU, such as he had recounted in his story. I related to the emotion of feeling so far away from my family yet one step closer to my dreams.
Upon entering Santa Clara, like Dr. Jiménez, I knew I wanted to be a teacher because being a first-generation student had exposed me to the injustices in our education system. I became determined to pursue a career in teaching to maximize the impact of education in my community and promote equity.
So, I began as a Math major with the intention of teaching math. But throughout my coursework, I felt that something essential was missing, but, at the time, I didn’t know what it was. Then, one day my friend and I attended an information session for the Modern Languages Department. Immediately as we walked in the door, we felt welcomed. Everyone was inviting us to their table, inviting us to get refreshments, and asking us how our day went. I had been looking for this camaraderie in my studies, and I wanted to continue having it as part of my educational experience. So, I decided to switch to a Spanish Major. I was nervous, not knowing if I had made the right decision to switch majors because I still wanted to be an educator. But now the question was, what field of education did I want to pursue? One day, when I was walking to my History of the Spanish Language class, I saw Dr. Jiménez. We had a very brief conversation, but speaking to him was once again that guiding light telling me, “you made the right decisions; it’s going to be okay.”
Through my SCU education and experiences there, I gained the confidence to become a first-generation Xicana teacher leader who would change the educational system to be more equitable, culturally responsive, and inclusive. Being selected as the recipient of the 2020 Francisco Jiménez Award reassured me that I was capable of that and more. I was honored to be recognized as the person to follow in Dr. Jiménez’s steps to positively impact our community as he did.
In my courses for my Spanish major and my double minors in Urban Education and Mathematics, I came to learn so much outside of just one educational context and gained valuable mentorship. In particular, taking courses with my advisor Dr. Alberto Ribas-Casasayas, being a Peer Educator for Dr. Schindewolf’s classes, and all my professors in the Spanish department offered me unconditional support. And that is what I wanted. The support I also received from the LEAD Scholars program, the Future Teachers Project, and the Thriving Neighbors Initiative helped me holistically understand my identity, culture, and vocation. As a result, I now know that my true passion is working with the BIPOC immigrant communities as an Education Specialist.
This gave me the motivation I needed to continue pursuing my graduate education. So, today, I am happy to announce that I will be continuing my studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Graduate School of Education. Within the next year, I will obtain my Education Specialist Credential, a Master’s Degree in Special Education, and my Bilingual Authorization. Moreover, I am proud to announce that I will be a part of the first cohort for the Teaching Inclusivity and Equity Residency (TIER) Program.
Thank you to everyone who helped me and supported me to be where I am today.”
Gloria Sevilla '20
May 27, 2021
Professor Emeritus Francisco Jiménez and Gloria Sevilla