When Latino Alumni Association scholar Erica Silva ’11 first visited the USC campus, she felt like she’d come home. But when she was accepted, it was a mixed blessing; USC’s price tag was daunting. Her parents knew how hard she’d worked to get to USC. With only three years left on their mortgage, they refinanced their home to allow Erica to attend the university.
Erica is grateful for her parents’ sacrifice—and has given them an invaluable return on their investment by being an outstanding student, earning scholarships and awards, and graduating cum laude in December 2011 with a bachelor of arts in political science.
Erica’s proud parents attended the 38th annual LAA Scholarship Gala to watch their daughter receive the 2012 Dr. John R. Hubbard Award, which recognizes exceptional academic accomplishments, community service and leadership. “It was so overwhelming to be selected for the Hubbard Award, represent my fellow scholars and see such support from our community,” says Erica.
Although she initially intended to major in pre-law, Erica’s experiences working with the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund (NTSAF) awoke her passion for education. As the NTSAF outreach coordinator, she welcomed hundreds of high school students each year to the University Park campus for college seminars to inspire and educate them about college life and inform them about the application process. She quickly discovered a passion for education and figured she could find ways to contribute to policymaking as an educator.
In June 2012, Erica began a two-year stint with Teach for America, which has placed her in a low-income school in Los Angeles. “I hope to work with students and families and show them the value and importance of an education,” she says. “So many Latinos are unaware of the opportunities available to them and I’ve seen that in my own family. I want to reach out to young Latinos and address the challenges that face our community, especially in education.”
Through Teach for America, she attends Loyola Marymount University to earn a teaching credential and plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban education. Further down the line, she would like to attend Teacher’s College at Columbia University and eventually open a K-12 education center in East Los Angeles.
Erica says that the Latino Alumni Association Scholarship and her involvement with the LAA helped prepare her for her post-graduate life. “I am most grateful for the professional leadership training that the USC Latino Alumni Association provided to us,” she says. “The workshops provided a strong foundation on how to conduct myself, preparing a résumé, interviewing, public speaking and etiquette. I want to continue to be part of USC LAA and help students like me.”