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Defying Stereotypes and Paying It Forward

At her Clark High School graduation event, it occurred to the UNLV-bound Ivet Aldaba-Valera that if she struck her objective, she would be the first in her household not only to graduate from high school, but also the first to make a college degree.

“I remember walking across the phase and thinking this would not be the last time,” Aldaba-Valera said. “In four years, I will walk throughout the stage at the Thomas & & Mack Center.”

Aldaba-Valera turned her tassels twice more, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human services counseling from the UNLV College of Education in 2007 and a master’s degree in social work from the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs in 2009. She is now a speaker in the university’s School of Social Work.

She sees her academic journey as mirroring that of lots of first-generation trainees at UNLV.

Her parents emigrated from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, however did not know the best ways to speak English well.

Composing did not come simple to Aldaba-Valera. One of her first papers in an English-language class was returned to her with red pen marks riddled throughout the pages.

“I felt like an awful person,” she said.

But she also was figured out to alter mainstream societal views that depicted Latinas as pregnant by 15 and wed by 20, Aldaba-Valera explained.

“I got my drive from that– to defy stats that are painted on young Latina women,” she stated. “I am going to turn that negativeness and the stereotypes and defy them, which pressed me to pursue higher education. I made education my child.”

Her post-graduation career has actually been dedicated to assisting trainees overcome barriers and encouraging Latino youth to pursue college.

Outside of teaching, Aldaba-Valera helps high school trainees through the Latino Youth Management Conference, which introduces young people to higher education. She works as a commissioner on the state Juvenile Justice Commission and is on the executive board for the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs Alumni Association.

She remembers exactly what it resembled to be an university student, making the effort to discover peers, trainees, or professor whose background resembled hers. She wished to find people who might connect to her training, culture, or worths. She didn’t wish to feel alone and doesn’t desire today’s students to feel that way.

“Do not quit. Do not let the scenario defeat you,” Aldaba-Valera tells students. “There’s constantly a light at the end of the tunnel.”

She credits UNLV’s dedication to diversity and programs for students from all walks of life– from transfer trainees to veterans to first-generation students. She recently shared her motivation for assisting trainees on the Different, Bold, Varied podcast, produced by KUNV and UNLV’s The Intersection, a resource center for trainees.

“It’s most likely one my favorite parts of remaining in the classroom. I stroll in and I inform these students, ‘Browse you; this is a classroom filled with lovely colors,’ Aldaba-Valera stated.

And she can share her own experience to influence them.

Because her moms and dads had restricted English language abilities, Aldaba-Valera helped them comprehend files in the mail and translated discussions at doctor visits. Her mom was unable to drive so Valera found out bus routes and assisted her mom navigate town.

“I was the one to opt for them and at an extremely young age I had to discover how to be attentive to these issues, to these ‘grown-up’ issues,” Aldaba-Valera stated.

She understood her youth was a little different from her peers due to the fact that of the included duties. However the experiences shaped her into a caretaker and has assisted her in the social work field.

“I took a look at my parents’ predicament and their migration experience to seek a much better life. They influenced me to obtain higher education and become the very first to finish high school and go to college.”

She remembers her dad encouraging her to study whatever she desired, so long as she continued her education. “That will open opportunities for you,” he said. “We do not want you to depend on anyone.”

“I took that to heart at a young age.”

Learn how you can get involved in UNLV programs through the UNLV Alumni Association.