My LopeLife: Student’s work translates to a ministry

December 17, 2021 / by / 0 Comment
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Daniela Chavira’s leadership at orientation sessions made Spanish-speaking families feel welcome during Welcome Week. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Editor’s note: Reprinted from the November 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here. My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.

By Daniela Chavira
GCU Magazine

Monarch butterflies are beautiful creatures known for their intricate wings and their 3,000-mile migration. Like the monarch butterfly, I too migrated.

I immigrated to the United States from Mexico at 10 months old, and I remember sitting in kindergarten and not understanding a word of English. I wished for someone to help me understand the language and culture of this foreign land I would learn to call home. It took me three years of instruction and constant reading to learn English.

Early on, I realized the disparity a language barrier can create and how much of a differenc a single person can have in someone’s life. When I was in high school, I volunteered at the beginning of the school year to translate for the parents of incoming freshmen, helping about 100 families in just two days understand how the system works and showing them the opportunities and resources available.

How do I know I made a difference in their lives? It was in their eyes. When they heard me speak their language, their eyes lit up with a sense of familiarity and hope. The unwavering sense of uncertainty and confusion was gone with just a few spoken words.

Understanding the impact this had, I volunteered during GCU’s Welcome Week as a leader for the Spanish student/parent orientation.

I shared my experience about navigating higher education as both a first-generation student and immigrant. I discussed how students are eligible for many scholarships, and as I said this, their eyes also lit up, some with tears streaming down their faces.

After I finished speaking, many parents thanked me, saying they felt more knowledgeable about how to help their students.

When I applied for college, I thought of the many other students experiencing the same emotions and sense of uncertainty I felt. I remembered how much I wished someone was there to help me, how it pushed me to action from an early age. I never had anyone to translate for me. I was left on my own.

Helping people in a similar situation makes me feel accomplished. Seeing the look of appreciation on their faces lets me know that what I am doing does have an impact, no matter how small.

My entire life, I have served my community in many ways: advocating for immigration reform and in-state tuition for Arizona Dreamers, offering my translation services, serving in the Arizona Department of Education and helping high school students navigate higher education.

After serving as Vice President of the Latino Student Union at GCU, I now am a senator for the Associated Students of GCU, serving as the liaison for first-generation students. As I continue my journey in higher education, I have come to realize that finding your purpose is not a linear path. It has its ups and downs, and choosing what you will major in does not defin your life’s purpose, let alone your worth.

I recently changed my major from mechanical engineering to psychology with a minor in pre-law with hopes to become an immigration attorney. Why the change? God’s plans for me are different from the ones I thought were meant to be. Every time I question if I am doing what God intended me to do, I remember this verse:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Like the butterfly, I will learn to spread my wings and fly. No matter the circumstances, I put my faith in God. I am here with a purpose, one bigger than I can imagine. No matter where His plans take me, one thing is for sure: I will never stop serving my community.

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ABOUT DANIELA CHAVIRA

Daniela Chavira is a sophomore majoring in psychology with a minor in pre-law. Daniela does art commissions in her free time and loves to watch “Haikyu!!”, discover new music and read. She has a passion for advocacy and often can be seen at Arizona’s capitol or on the news speaking about immigration.

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Related content:

GCU Today: My LopeLife: How an accident impacted her purpose

GCU Magazine: My LopeLife: Her GCU legacy is her leadership

GCU Magazine: My LopeLife: Class of 2020 has powerful perspective

GCU Today: My LopeLife: Master’s degree was the right choice


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