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The Importance of Representation in Leadership, Student Empowerment, and Community

We spoke with TFA alum Angela Rivas about her hopes for Latinx students, her goals as an educator, and more. 

October 21, 2020

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we interviewed alum Angela Rivas (Eastern North Carolina ‘12). ⁣Angela is a high school educator in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she teaches Spanish and Latin American studies. She also serves as an executive member of a Christian youth organization in North Carolina.

We spoke to her about the importance of community, her leadership journey, her corps experience, and more.

What are your hopes for Latinx students in North Carolina?

My hope is that they will see value in their communities and find ways in which their unique talents and gifts can impact their hometowns and cities for the better. I hope that they get to feel that they have permission to pursue their dreams to the fullest and go far, and also feel permission to stay and grow where their families live and work. I hope that they know that their potential for impact does not depend on their location, but is found within themselves. ⁣

“Leadership should reflect the identities of the people being asked to follow.⁣”

Angela Rivas

High School Educator, Winston Salem, NC

Eastern North Carolina Corps Member 2012

How does your identity inform your leadership practice?

Representation in all aspects of leadership is very important and I strive that in all spaces where I get to express my voice, others can follow and sit alongside the voices of leadership at that table as equals. Leadership should reflect the identities of the people being asked to follow.⁣

What advice would you have for educators as they support Latinx students?

Understand and provide space for students’ identities to be expressed, and understand that their identities are complex and multi-layered, including their cultural and linguistic heritage, but also many other things. They are Latinx AND multilingual AND also gamers, athletes, scientists, writers, artists, and so much more.

How has your corps experience shaped the way you approach your work now?

My time in the corps taught me that connection to the community where you work is important, and that curriculum and what I teach in my classroom should directly benefit the goals and aspirations of the community to which my students belong. My job is not to mold my students to fit my ideas of who they should be, but rather, to give them tools that can empower and raise up who they already are and what their community values.