"I could have easily become a statistic, a dropout, a memory..."
Samanta Lopez, daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother, from a family that experienced homelessness and hunger decades ago, said her own experience drives her passions today. She advocates for at-risk youth and social justice. Lopez has taught English as a second language, mainly to women.
She is also a teacher at Howard High School and serves as an adjunct at the University of Delaware, developing and guiding future teachers.
Delaware Technical Community College recognized Lopez as its tenth honoree during Hispanic Heritage Month Tuesday at the Wilmington campus. She received accolades and messages of support from elected officials, educators and people she has educated.
"Education for some is just a process. For me, it's freedom," Lopez said. She added that's probably why she became "a student for life."
Families today, like her own decades ago, still flee to the United States for opportunity or in some cases just for basic safety.
"Latino issues are not just Latino issues. This is something that is affecting all of us in so many different ways," Lopez said.
"The success of the Latino community is the success of Delaware."