HOLA on YouTube

When asking the question “Why HOLA,” an easy answer is Deborah Loperena. Deborah was around in the early days. She encountered numerous obstacles growing up, obstacles that no one should ever have to face. But with the support of HOLA and her mentors, including Mitch Moore and Sally Spencer, she persevered and became the first in her family to graduate from high school. Upon her graduation, she knew she needed to get out of her neighborhood and learn how to be her own person. She joined the military where she successfully moved up the ranks over her 8 1/2 years of service. She served in both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars and left the Navy in 2008.

Deborah kept in close touch with Mitch and Sally when she was in the Navy and when she returned to Los Angeles, she sought Sally’s advice about college. By then Sally had left the world of entertainment and was teaching at Cal State Northridge. She knew she wanted to pursue a degree in Special Education and Sally guided her all of the way through. She received her degree in Liberal Studies in 2012 and continued on to work towards her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials. She received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color in 2012, helping to cover the cost of her graduate school program. With a very rigorous class schedule and student teaching, this past Spring Deborah received her Master’s Degree and cleared her teaching credential. The hooding ceremony was particularly heartfelt for Deborah, as Sally was the professor that presented her with her hood.

This year, Deborah is a full time special education teacher. She is married and is has two beautiful children, Tiffany and Travis. Deborah returned to HOLA this past spring to serve as the keynote speaker at the HOLA Community Graduation. Deborah Loperena, that’s WHY HOLA!


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