When we met Yamileth Lopez, she had already come a long way, both literally and figuratively. Yamileth was in her fourth year of college in Venezuela when a family tragedy brought her to the United States. Despite not knowing English, she worked hard for years running her late father’s convenience store to support her family. Her dreams of college and an accounting career were put on hold.
In time, Yamileth again set her sights on higher education and completed JVS Boston’s Bridges to College program, where she was introduced to First Literacy. Yamileth applied for and received two consecutive First Literacy Scholarships, which enabled her to begin her college career again.
This picture of Yamileth and her daughter Nayleth was taken shortly before our 24th Spelling Bee. In a fitting coincidence, Nayleth had recently won her school’s spelling bee.
We’ve kept in close contact with Yamileth since then and watched her determination and progress with awe. She completed her Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Bunker Hill Community College in May 2015 and her Bachelor’s in Management from UMass Boston in December 2018.
This photo of Yamileth, standing between her mother and her daughter at her Bunker Hill Community College graduation ceremony, is one of our favorites. It captures the ripple effect of literacy and education: generations working hard and dreaming; inspiring and supporting one another to do the same.
At First Literacy, we know that it’s vital to educate parents because they are their children’s first teachers. Yamileth was certainly aware of this throughout her educational journey. When she spoke at our 30th Spelling Bee this year, she said,
“I wanted to get a better education for myself and my family. I know that everything in life doesn’t come easily, but I knew I had to take the risk to change my life. I spent long nights and weekends doing homework, and at the same time, I was showing my daughter the importance of getting a college degree and working hard for what you want. She was in middle school when I started college, and now that I have earned my bachelor’s degree, she will start her own journey in college.”
Like her mother, Nayleth astounds us with her achievements. In another fitting coincidence, she was unable to attend this year’s Spelling Bee to hear her mother’s speech because she was at her own scholarship award ceremony. She received a Northeast Human Resources Association Diversity & Inclusion award to help her attend Harvard University this fall.
We can’t take credit for Yamileth’s intelligence, hard work, or persistence, all of which she has clearly passed along to her daughter. But we’re proud to have supported her, to have cheered her on as she continues to push further fulfilling her dreams, and to include both in the First Literacy family.
As to how far she and her daughter will go, she said it best in her speech, “When you have the right people giving you support, the sky is the limit!”
Please donate to the First Literacy Scholarship Fund and help more adult learners like Yamileth realize their dreams.