Imagine getting off the metro, walking seven blocks through a blistering cold DC winter, only to arrive at your desk to receive a lovely note and flowers from one of your coworkers expressing how grateful they are for you. You are appreciated beyond measure and it isn’t even your birthday.
Here at the Career Academy we don’t have to imagine this treat, thanks to Ms. Ericka Rivera.
Since her arrival at the Career Academy a little over a year ago, Ericka has filled our hearts (and bellies) with so much genuine love and support. She consistently goes above and beyond for her co-workers and students alike.
Ms. Rivera attributes her amazing character to her relationship with her mother and how she was brought up.
Ms. Rivera has deep empathy for immigrant students and students with disabilities in particular because she shares those identities. Born in El Salvador, and later migrating to the US at the age of 13, Ms. Rivera knows how to relate with her students because she went through some of the challenges that they endure on a daily basis. “I suffered a culture shock. We come from a place in which everyone has the same background and history and coming to the states is like a melting pot of all these different cultures and languages.”
Ms. Rivera also struggled with a speech impediment as a child. She shares, “There were many times that I was bullied for having a disability and that has never held me back. The feeling of rejection is not something that should push you away from striving to reach the goals you set for yourself.”
And Ms. Rivera’s drive and compassion is greatly appreciated by students. GED Pathway student, Jovelina Paz shared “ Ms. Rivera takes her time to address any issues that we may be having in school and at home, she makes everyone feel comfortable coming to her for a helping hand, she is super kind and I feel lucky to have her here at the Career Academy.”
Ms. Rivera herself reflected,“The most important thing for me to share with my students as an educator is that I am here for them, I hear them and I support them for who they are. We learn together that nothing can stop us from reaching our goals.”