by Claudia Navas
Daniela Aviles is a 21-year-old woman who was born in Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles. She attends East Los Angeles College and is a first-year peer mentor and is majoring in English.
The first-year center is a program at Elac that helps students who are new to college or are first-generation.
Aviles started her journey as a mentee in fall 2017 when she left Cal State Los Angeles due to financial complications.
She said when she first started she felt like rushing and started taking as many classes as she could transfer as soon as possible.
During club rush, when she learned about the first-year center and signed up. She realized that ELAC was a beautiful campus and college that was filled with many resources and staff.
She said she wanted other students to take advantage of this resource when she saw the opportunity to become a peer mentor she took the first chance.
Aviles said she was inspired to become a peer mentor because she wanted other students to have a positive mindset about ELAC
She wants to help navigate new students, showing them it’s possible to succeed at a community college. She said at first it was a volunteer job she started in fall 2018.
She said what has pushed her is being an undocumented student.
Aviles said she wants to prove that it’s possible even if things seem like it’s impossible.
Even if doors seem to close she wants to be an example for others to follow. That it’s possible to succeed, no matter who you are or where you come from.
She continued being a peer mentor in fall 2019 and was no longer volunteering but working for the first-year center. Aviles’s day consists of her normal full-time classes and the students that she mentors.
She says she finds it rewarding when she’s able to teach her mentees and see them grow. She said that one of her best experiences is being able to be there for a mentee and help them overcome a personal problem.
She loves what she does and likes how she can motivate others. She said that she feels like she is able to help and empower women of color and low income.
She says she can show them that they have a voice and potential to thrive and transcend to where they want to be at.
She said that being a peer mentor is rewarding but is emotionally draining as well. “At the end of the day, you’re not just a teacher but a close friend with your mentees,” Aviles said.
She helps students navigate college and life. She says how not only do you see them grow in their education but also as a person.
One of her motivators that helps her keep going when things seem rough is Dr. Sandy Chavez, peer mentor coordinator at . Aviles says she takes care and makes sure that the peer mentors are doing good and helps them keep going.
She makes us feel like family Aviles stated. She said that a first-year center is a wonderful place especially for those who consider teaching or helping students because you get that real experience and connection with others.
Sadly, Aviles will be saying goodbye to ELAC this spring because she will be starting UCLA in the fall. Aviles said that this isn’t stopping her from working at ELAC and she wants to keep helping students succeed.