Valeria Esparza’s dream was to attend college as a first-generation student. She is now guaranteed a position to teach elementary education as her future job following graduation.
Esparza is one of more than 1,100 students eligible for fall 2021 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad.
What degree did you earn?
I am receiving a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education.
What is your hometown?
I grew up here in Wichita, Kansas.
What led you to Wichita State?
I have always been here, and the university was always a dream. I wanted to be the first in my family to attend a university.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
I am feeling excited more than anything. I am excited to begin the next chapter in my life. I have worked hard, and graduation is such a rewarding experience.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?
Student teaching alongside great cooperative teachers and supervisors have made my experience gold. Having those great role models guides and motivates me to become better in my field.
What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge as a student I would say was managing two jobs, school full-time and a social life with family and friends. It’s difficult to dedicate all your focus on school when you have all these other factors weighing upon you. Fortunately, I made time and kind of learned to juggle all these aspects at the same time. I learned to make time for me.
What are your plans after graduation?
Following graduation, I will be on the hunt for my dream job at my dream school. I have signed with USD 259, guaranteeing a position for the year of 2022-2023. I am very fortunate to have the clarity and relief of having somewhere to go. I will interview for positions I am interested and then see what happens. I am very excited.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans?
COVID-19 affected me most during the beginning of my student teaching. I missed out on a semester and have been dealing with masks and kids doing remote learning since then. It has been difficult to watch changes and adjustments being made to our education system. I know that it is all for the better and safety of our students. More than anything, COVID-19 has taught us to have grace with one another and ourselves. We are worthy.
What advice would you give other Wichita State students?
I would say it goes by quick so always make the most of it. When you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, remember it’s only temporary and you will get through it. College is a privilege to experience, and you are living it.