I graduated from Princeton in 1975; majored in psychology; and obtained a certificate from the Teacher Preparation Program. I was the first Mexican-American (Chicana) woman at Princeton. There were Mexican-American men before me, but I was the first woman. I was really nervous about starting my student teaching in a fifth grade class at Princeton Middle School. I wondered . . . will I be able to keep my students engaged; will I be able to redirect unruly students and thus maintain classroom control; will I be able to get through the course material for each subject so that I can stay on schedule; etc. My mentor teacher was awesome!!! He helped me address all of those concerns. He was a skilled educator, even though he was only a few years older than me. Here is one of the memories that has stuck with me . . . I am 4' 10" tall. I was taller than most of the boys in my classroom, but most of the girls were taller than me. The boys were more respectful and deferential to me than were the girls. The girls challenged me more, often with sarcasm. Hmmm, did height have something to do with that? Since I couldn't change my height, I figured out who was the leader of the girls and I established a rapport with her. That helped reduce the snippy remarks from the other girls. I loved my student teaching experience and was exhausted at the end of every day. It's physically and emotionally tiring to have to be on your toes and be center stage for most of the day. But, I felt great at the end of the day and I looked forward to the next day (after working on the lesson plans).
Then I went on to the University of San Francisco School of Law, getting my J.D. in 1979. Joined the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office in March 1980, where I am still working. I served the first 15 years as a prosecutor in the Criminal Branch and the last 24 years in the Municipal Counsel Branch. I've advised several City departments, programs, the City Council and oversight bodies. I've served on the boards of several social service and education non-profit organizations and bar associations. The work our office does touches on so many important issues in the socio-political space of our City. The work is intellectually stimulating and personally satisfying. Being a public servant is very rewarding. I can drive the streets of Los Angeles and see the recreation centers, swimming pools, sports fields, youth arts centers and children's science center developed by the City and non-profit organizations we've funded and that I've played a role in making them become a reality.
On my own I've mentored many Princeton students and young alumni, some of whom I met when I interviewed them as high school applicants to Princeton. I've also mentored students through the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni and as an alumna of USF School of Law. I've mentored college and law students who have been interns in our office, as well as new attorneys.
My husband and our 24-year old daughter love to travel. Hawaii is a favorite destination. My daughter and I are foodies and love the variety of cuisines available in Los Angeles. She is a fabulous chef who is aspiring to be a personal chef. We are treated to scrumptious meals at home as she tries out new recipes she's developed.
Next to being a parent, being a K-12 teacher is the most important job in our society. Keep in mind, without skilled teachers, we would not have rocket scientists, doctors who cure cancer, musicians, actors, artists, economists, business and government leaders, and of course other K-12 teachers. The knowledge and skills you learn through Teacher Prep will serve you well in whatever profession you choose, even if you end up not being a teacher.
All of the skills I learned in Teacher Prep have helped me be a better attorney; e.g., being able to communicate facts and concepts to students (clients, judges, jurors, supervisors, opposing counsel, witnesses, etc.), reading body language to know if you are getting the information across to your students (judges, jurors, clients, witnesses), classroom (courtroom) management, etc. I did not end up being a teacher in the classroom. But, because of Teacher Prep and my parents stressing the value of an education, I am a life-long advocate for quality education for all, regardless of what zip code you live in. Quality education and education equity are two of the most important issues that our civic and business leaders should focus on. Ever since getting out of law school, I have volunteered with and served on advisory or governing boards for several non-profit organizations, including our local public television station in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) which is a third-party education support organization that works to remove the barriers and create collaborations to achieve education equity.