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Peninsula Scholar Returns To Her Childhood School To Teach

by Michelle Griego and Jennifer Mistrot

HALF MOON BAY (KPIX 5) -- Brenda De Jesus Acosta is working her dream job, student teaching at Alvin Hatch elementary in Half Moon Bay. It's the very same school she attended as a child.

"It's really unbelievable," said Brenda. "I didn't think that I would be able to come back and actually student teach at the school that I went to school at."

The California native's dedication to education showed early on. She first volunteered during summers as a middle school student. That led to a job as a paid teaching assistant. Now, as a student teacher, she incorporates current topics like immigration into her lesson plans. Brenda says community concerns inspire her teaching but it's her family that has her heart. Neither her mother nor father had the opportunity to go to school.

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

"My parents went up to 3rd grade in Mexico," explained Brenda. "{And they} stopped going to school to go to work and help at home."

Brenda's parents came to America to give their children the educational opportunities they never had but it was tough. Both her parents found work but then were laid off from their jobs. Soon the family would receive some devastating news. Brenda's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"And then she had diabetes," recalled Brenda. "And it was just like medical condition after medical condition."

Her father took any work he could get. His dedication to his family an inspiration to Brenda.

"He has always taught my siblings and I that if we want something we need to work hard," said Brenda. "There will be obstacles but you have to overcome them to get to where you want to be."

Brenda took his advice, and now she's pursuing as Masters in Education at UC Santa Cruz, with a multiple subject teaching credential and bi-lingual studies.
Her first grade teacher, Alvin Hatch elementary' s Misty Veloso, is now a colleague.

"It's very exciting," said Veloso about teaching alongside her former student. "And self-fulfilling, like it just feels so good to see her here."

It's a welcome Brenda appreciates. And with her mom in remission, and her father back to work- the whole family is celebrating Brenda's bright future.

"It is a goal and dream that was fulfilled for all of us. Because I am the first of my grandparents 25 grandchildren to receive a bachelor's degree," said Brenda. "So I feel like that was really important for everybody."

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