Student: Alondra Torres
Alondra Torres’ journey to become a Spanish teacher has taken her from eastern North Carolina to Mexico and back home to East Carolina University.
Torres was born in Williamston, about 30 minutes away from ECU’s campus, but her parents moved the family to Mexico when she was 3. Torres lived there until she was 14, when she and her parents decided she would come back to North Carolina to live with her uncle’s family to pursue her degree. Her parents and younger brothers and sisters live in Veracruz, Mexico, along the Gulf Coast.
“It means a lot to have this opportunity,” she said. “I feel really proud of myself because I didn’t know I was going to be here at this university. It has been really great. And this is my last semester, so I’m happy because I have been studying since the month that I came until now. I never stopped.”
She started ninth grade at North Pitt High School, which was a much larger school compared to her school in Mexico. Torres enrolled in English as a second language for two semesters in addition to her other high school classes. “What really helped most was being in the classroom with just English. I had to force myself to learn English,” she said.
After high school, she graduated from Pitt Community College before transferring to ECU, where she is majoring in foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Hispanic studies education in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.
“Since I was small, I always liked to teach. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a Spanish teacher until I came here,” she said.
Torres was inspired by one of her own elementary school teachers. “I just wanted to be like her when I grew up. I really liked the way she taught, all the engaging activities that she did,” Torres said. “When I came here, I decided to become a Spanish teacher to inspire others so they can learn a second language.”
She plans to incorporate games and activities to teach students Hispanic culture and grammar at the same time. “Not focusing just on grammar, not focusing just on culture, but both, so it can be more engaging for them,” she said.
Torres has been getting teaching experience since last summer, when she interned with the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN), a Pitt County-based nonprofit that promotes the appreciation, understanding and prosperity of the Mexican and Latino community through education, advocacy, culture, leadership, health and binational programs. She taught Spanish, presented at public schools and helped children with their homework.
In the fall, she taught at J.H. Rose High School, and she is teaching this semester at Pitt County Schools Early College High School.
Last year, Torres was awarded the Jane Mitchell-Manolita Buck Scholarship by the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina. She was chosen for the award for her excellent academic record, community involvement, and passion for language teaching and learning.
Now in her last semester, Torres is looking forward to teaching through the end of the Early College High School year. She also is taking an online course, working as a research assistant on a project about Colombian Spanish, and preparing to take the certification exam to allow her to teach.
“The foreign languages and literatures department and in particular my class with Dr. (Laura) Levi Altstaedter have been really helpful. ECU has been great,” Torres said.
She plans to visit her family in Mexico this summer before starting her career as a teacher in the fall. As a first-generation college student, her family shares in her accomplishments. She and a cousin, who will graduate from college in Mexico, will be the first in their family to complete a four-year degree.
“It means a lot,” Torres said. “I feel like my parents are really proud of me, and I feel happy about that. I feel really proud of my family too.”
Name: Alondra Vivero Torres
College: Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Hispanic studies education
Hobbies/interests: Dancing, playing pickleball, going out with family and friends
Clubs and Organizations: Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, AMEXCAN
Favorite hangout: Town Common
Favorite place on campus: Ledonia Wright Cultural Center
Favorite place to eat: Zaxby’s
Favorite class: SPAN 3441 with Dr. Juan Daneri
Professors who influenced you the most: Carolina Herrera and Dr. Laura Levi Altstaedter
Favorite TV show: “La Reina del Sur”
Favorite band/musician: Selena Quintanilla
Favorite movie: “Instructions not included”
Dream job: Spanish teacher
Role model: My mom
Your words to live by: “When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go.” “Siempre para adelante, nunca para atras”- My dad
What advice do you have for other students? Always be open to meeting and learning from new people. There are very wise and nice people who lead you on the right path if you let them help you.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? Something I wish I had known during my first year is all the helpful resources available at the Joyner Library. If you need help developing your resume, they also help you with that. Also, the climbing wall at the Eakin Student Recreation Center is pretty cool!