I am a first-year MSW student at California State University East Bay. It was an honor to be in Professor Yanez’s class during my first school quarter. I still remember my first day of class with Professor Yanez. After I introduced myself, she said, “You have a unique name”, and then she repeated my name a few times until she got it right. She said, “Correct me if I ever say your name wrong”. I smiled even though my eyes were filled with tears. My name is Sriyanta. I am an immigrant from Nepal. I have lived in the United States for almost eleven years, and Professor Yanez is among the very few who made an effort to pronounce my name correctly when meeting with me for the first time.
Professor Yanez was always so lively in class. Her teaching style was straightforward, and she was always compassionate towards her students. She was kind if any student didn’t have a course book. She paired them with someone who had a book in order to ensure no student was left behind due to financial hardship. She often reminded us that we were the ones chosen to be in the MSW program and nothing could stop us from getting our degree. Her class check-in was as powerful as her lectures. She always showed us how much she valued her family and her own strengths and resilience as a person of color.
It was almost the end of my first school quarter of school when I needed an extension for one of my final papers. I was unable to meet the deadline because I was working multiple jobs just to pay my first quarter’s tuition and support myself. My temporary immigration status didn’t qualify me for any financial aid, or any Dream Act grants, and I’d been living in the U.S for almost 11 years. I emailed Professor Yanez asking for an extension, and I requested to excuse one class absence. She responded by saying that she was worried about my grades because I was missing a lot of classes, and she asked me to see her during her office hours. I scheduled to meet with her in-person, but little did I know that this would be my last time meeting with her.I will forever remember meeting with her individually at her office on that day.
During our meeting I had an opportunity to share my story with Professor Yanez. I told her of my strong desire to pursue an MSW degree. I explained that, even after having an uncertain immigration status due to abandonment, being a victim of abuse, being temporarily homeless, and surviving domestic violence just a few years ago, I wanted to work to help others. She said, “I am so glad that I met with you today. Your story is very inspiring. I am certain that you will be able to continue college regardless of all these uncertainties. You have come a long way and will graduate.” I remember crying with her while in her office.
I am so honored to have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Professor Yanez even though it was only for a short period of time. Her words of encouragement have impacted me deeply, and I always think of them when I want to give up. This is my third quarter at CSUEB. The support that I have received from the faculty and my classmates makes me believe that everything is possible. I am so proud of the strong foundation Professor Yanez gave to me as a first-year MSW student. I look forward to honoring her words by finishing my degree next year.