Latoya Mendoza, a Trinidadian-born Brooklynite, has always dreamed of being an educator. With a passion for teaching and a love for children, she decided to double major in children and youth studies and as a childhood education teacher candidate, both offered in the School of Education. Currently, Mendoza teaches preschool, where she is positively impacting the lives of young children by helping them master new skills, and is finding it to be a truly rewarding experience. Mendoza will graduate this spring with a dual bachelor’s degree in both areas of study and is proud to be the first person in her family to earn a college degree. This budding teacher is excited to educate and engage children—and to play a critical role in their future success. What did you study at Brooklyn College, and what inspired you to pursue that path? Teaching has been a career I have wanted to pursue for as long as I can remember. I want to be a role model and impact children’s lives the way many of my teachers influenced and shaped me into who I am today. What motivated you to become a preschool teacher? I have so much passion for children, and I want to nourish their minds through teaching and mentoring. I want to help every child learn regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and language barriers. During my academic journey and experience as a nanny, I realized that the first five years of a child’s development are critical. I want to make a difference in the lives of our future generations; as an educator, I am their first exposure to school. I love reading, arts and crafts, and learning through play. As I engaged in these activities, I realized how much it impacts children’s learning and understanding of the world and brain development. I love working with children; they are like sponges. I love my interactions with my preschoolers as I want to impact their lives the way many of my teachers have affected who I am today. I enjoy being a shaper of critical thinkers and encouraging my students to believe in their potential to succeed, giving them the tools and strategies that they can use inside and outside the classroom. What was your favorite course you took at the School of Education? I have a few favorite courses that I have enjoyed, which are Mathematics in Education, Teaching Mathematics, and Student Teaching. All these classes have helped me by providing strategies and articles on how I can improve as a teacher. I learned from these courses immensely, making me a better teacher as I can now cater to all my students’ needs and meet them where they are because each child is unique and processes things differently. Did you have a staff or faculty mentor at the college who had a particularly significant influence on your academic career? My educational journey has helped me in my academic career. Professors Phillip Reid and Katie Rose Hejtmanek taught me so many strategies on how I can help children learn and grow. They have been instrumental in providing me with valuable teaching strategies that I implement in my classroom to ensure students are learning and have the hands-on experience and tools they can use inside and outside to learn about the world. What are your favorite memories of Brooklyn College? My favorite memories at Brooklyn College are having a community of friends from my education classes. We formed WhatsApp groups and helped each other whenever we had questions. It has been helpful knowing that they were there to help. I also will never forget the lily pond; it was a scenic place and epitomizes all the things I enjoy doing, like sitting outside in the beautiful weather, turtles, and watching the beautiful foliage in the fresh air. What are your plans after graduation? I am hungry for the opportunity to become the education director at my present school. I would also like to write a children’s book. Additionally, I would love to create a mentorship program and podcast for fatherless children, as this issue is near and dear to my heart. I noticed one of my preschoolers struggled when his father became absent from his life. Our community is in dire need of ensuring fathers are active in their children’s lives because they never asked to be born in this world. I want to be an advocate for children as this epidemic of fatherlessness adversely affects our youth. I never want a child to lack anything that can hamper them from having positive experiences, development, and growth. Minor changes are needed to help our children grow and be the best; nothing is impossible to achieve.