Lupita works at Mount Vernon High School, alongside the Student Support Team. She serves students who are struggling with academics, attendance or behavior by providing them with supportive mentoring and connecting them with needed resources to succeed. Lupita is a graduate of MVHS, which makes her a particularly powerful mentor, but she is also incredibly passionate about helping youth become who they are. When asked why high school students are drawn to her, she says that she respects them as young adults “who have personalities and dreams and opinions but who are still developing beings that need positive interactions and experiences.” She says that “in my office, I offer my space for them to be respected.”

Lupita knows that for many students, life at home is difficult and they aren’t always afforded the privilege of focusing on their education. Many students visit her regularly throughout the week to get food or clothes from her office, or to find support when they are struggling with family issues, social situations, or the pressure of school. She says,

“Kids don’t only need intellectual support, they need health and safety.”

Lupita’s office is filled with brochures from local community resources, so she can point students in the direction of mental health services and food banks. Depending on what they are going through, Lupita is there and can help them navigate and problem solve. “I get to know them deeply to know what they need, and how to communicate with them. I care about their wellness and happiness,” she says. “There’s so much pressure at school – it’s important for me to accept students for being at school and trying, even if it’s not perfect or they’re not totally buying in.”

Lupita spends a lot of time reminding students about their own potential. She says

“It’s beautiful to see kids go from not knowing their place in the community, to discovering their purpose and owning that they drive their own vehicle toward their future. Nothing is staged for them, they are the driver. They have to be motivated.”

Lupita wants youth to know that they are valuable to society. “Others can learn from youth,” she says. “They can teach their peers. They have worked hard and can be a role model for others.”