By Mariana Olivieri
Hola, my name is Mariana Olivieri and this is how Esperanza has impacted my life and continues to do so. For this I say, “Gracias!”
Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors a prepared mind.” This is a true statement. Having access to a great education will prepare you further than you can imagine.
In 2014, I walked through the doors of Esperanza College. I remember it was a cold winter evening because my old Ford Expedition had broken down mid-way in commute to Esperanza. I had to walk the rest of the way to school. A group of professionals were awaiting my arrival for an admissions interview. I was nervous for so many reasons, but most of all, I’m not built for college (at least that’s what I thought at that time). I could hardly read. I attended all Philadelphia public schools. All I had learned was how to survive. It wasn’t until I attended Esperanza College that I read my first book, an entire book. This novel, “Third and Indiana” by Steve Lopez, has become my favorite. I am incredibly grateful to Professor B. from my English 101 class for introducing this novel to me.
From Esperanza College, I graduated with my associates degree and a 4.0 GPA while being inducted into the Phi Delta Kappa Honor society. I didn’t wait long before I applied for my undergrad and obtained my bachelor’s degree in social and criminal justice. I then graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy. Additionally, I mastered my graduate level degree in forensic science with a minor in criminal investigations. As a scholar today, I proudly want to express that in January of 2023, I start my Ph.D. in higher education. Moreover, I now work for Esperanza Academy High School in the Special Education Department. Esperanza gave me the tools, confidence, and reminder of who I am to go beyond my imagination and small limitations I had set for myself. My love and passion for education started when I first began college. Esperanza has impacted my life, my mind set, and allowed me to change the narrative for my family dynamics. I have set high expectations in my familia and the generations to come.
Coming from El Barrio, it is challenging to see hopes and dreams come to reality, let alone to recognize if they even exist. Poverty really takes a toll on a person but not my fighting spirit. The vision of the founding brothers of Esperanza (Reverend Luis Cortés Jr. and Reverend Danny Cortés) has come to fruition in my testimony to make generational lifelong change. In conclusion, I have endless opportunities for my career choices, and as a college graduate, I can help my daughter with her college work once she begins. I am the first person in my family to graduate in higher education.
As Louis Pasteur said, “chance favors a prepared mind.” Prepare yourself, give it your all, enjoy the fruits of your hard labor, and never forget to help your neighbor.