Stanislaus State student Litzy Rivera’s career path is paved with passion, dedication and commitment. As an English language teacher, her success is not only marked by academic excellence but also by her ability to bridge cultural and social gaps.
Rivera has been working with Traina Foods since August, where she teaches English to the organization’s Spanish speaking employees.
“Not only have my students learned a lot, but I have as well,” said Rivera, who is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. “I believe what has helped me connect with them the most is the fact that we share the same culture.”
As a child of immigrants, Rivera’s background has played a pivotal role in establishing a bond with her students. This shared cultural bond fosters an environment where intimidation is replaced by mutual understanding.
Her ability to understand slang in both English and Spanish allows her to navigate potential misunderstandings.
“Knowing the difficulties my parents faced while learning a new language has helped me adjust my lessons to cater more effectively to my students’ experiences and their level of knowledge,” Rivera said.
Rivera believes it takes more than linguistic expertise to be an effective language teacher.
“Patience is the most essential quality to be an effective teacher,” Rivera said. “Learning a new language is a long, slow and difficult process.”
Stan State’s language courses have deepened Rivera’s understanding of the subject’s intricacies. Though it can be complex, Rivera uses what she’s learned at Stan State to ensure her teaching is easy for all her students to grasp.
Rivera connects with her students by sharing family photos, exchanging stories and celebrating birthdays. While these interactions may seem small, she says they help her to feel more connected with her students.
“One student in particular — she’s my oldest student. She is always the first person to get to class, and she always says hello with a smile on her face,” Rivera said. “It makes me feel good knowing that my work is helping people like her.”
Her success is due in part to the help she’s received from Stan State faculty, Rivera explained. She describes them as pillars of support. Stan State has been an amazing place for my personal and professional growth,” Rivera said.
Her dedication and skills have not gone unnoticed by her instructors.
“Litzy has an independent and creative mind, thorough preparation in linguistics and literature and clarity of exposition,” said Professor of Spanish Teresa Bargetto. “Her work demonstrates maturity, depth and original thinking.”
Bargetto thinks she performs with ease and versatility, and she understands the material presented to her with accuracy.
After she graduates this spring, Rivera envisions a future where she continues to make a difference in the field of language education. She plans to apply to the University’s credential program to become a high school Spanish teacher and hopes to pursue a master’s degree.
“Stan State has helped me pave my path for the future,” Rivera said. “My best advice to students is to take advantage of all the available resources and try to form connections with your professors and classmates.”