Victor Coronado poses in front of (Anthony Martinez)
Victor Coronado poses in front of

Anthony Martinez

Professor takes steps to success

"I’m a person who has been accomplishing his goals step by step," says Spanish teacher, Victor Coronado.

September 13, 2018

“Sí se puede.” These three words of inspiration have pushed people in their toughest times, lead civil rights movements and even helped a senator become president of the United States of America. Translated as “yes we can” this simple yet powerful statement has touched the hearts of many people around the world, including Los Medanos College Spanish professor Victor Coronado.

Coronado, a humorous, kind-hearted professor, has been teaching students Spanish and the traditions of Spanish-speaking countries since 2011. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Coronado lived on his grandfather’s ranch surrounded by farm life and the outdoors. It was in his hometown of Camargo where he found his love for bicycling, horseback riding, teaching and most importantly, hard work.

Although he describes his early years as an excellent childhood, he acknowledges education was not the greatest priority in the eyes of the Mexican government at that time.

“The most important thing was to work,” he said, explaining most people were too focused on the work they had in front of them to pursue an education.

This mindset was fairly common in Mexico and his mother, for example, only made it to the fourth grade. However, she came to understand the value of knowledge and pushed him to pursue an education.

As a teenager,  Coronado moved to Mexico City and attended Mexico’s largest college, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexíco (UNAM). This was a giant leap for him, as life in Mexico City was not easy to get used to. He studied there for a few months before heading back home in search of something different.

When Corenado was 12, his father had moved north to work in the United States; his father worked in the poultry business to earn visas for for the family. Since Coronado had just left UNAM and was trying to figure out what to do next, he felt as if he did not fit in at UNAM nor in his hometown anymore.

He said to himself, “If I’m not comfortable here, I might as well try los Estados Unidos.”

Once in California, he headed back to school in Redwood City, attending Cañada College in 2001. Once again it was a challenge for him to fit in. But this time he found himself fitting in with students from other countries who were also learning English.

College attendance for Hispanics is relatively low, with many members of the Hispanic community working low paying or blue collar  jobs. But Coronado sees himself as a role model for them.

Coronado began his teaching career with one class at Sierra College in 2011. He then started teaching at another college for one other class while working full time at Whole Foods as a pastry chef.

He counts his current job at LMC as a blessing, because it was not easy to find a full time job teaching at a college. After a friend told him LMC was hiring, he did some research and liked all the positive reviews attributed to the school. Another thing he loved was seeing the large percentage of Latino students attending the school, which made him more comfortable.

This motivated Coronado to apply and made it more of a reality for him. He flew through the application/interview procedures until he had to teach to the committee.

“They loved my teaching demonstration,” he said.

This lead to a final interview with the Vice President of instruction and President of the college, which he passed.

“I’m a person who has been accomplishing his goals step by step,” Coronado said. “I use myself as an example for people in our community.”

The aforementioned low enrollment numbers combined with negative stereotypes have made things difficult for the Latino community.

“They think we’re taking advantage of this country,” Coronado said. “If you’re an illegal immigrant you don’t qualify for anything.”

In addition, the legal way to enter the country has become increasingly difficult for a number reasons, and with the element of time being an issue, some individuals or families are left with no choice but to cross illegally.

The Latino community faced even more issues this year regarding education and the removal of DACA despite the fact that  “sí se puede” and “tener ganas” (have an urge) are the two phrases driving his success, Coronado understands many young adults in the country are now restricted because the government refuses to support them anymore.

Coronado is vocal about the change in policy and believes the wall is “not a good thing” for either the United States or Mexico, emphasising that both countries need each other to be successful. There are clear examples of foreigners being successful on either sides of the border.

American companies such as Walmart, Costco and Ford thrive in Mexico, and in return America receives a lot of  Mexican workers through programs. Many teachers and doctors from Mexico are even sent to American cities to attend seminars, then go back to their country to use what they learned, explained Coronado.

Now at the age of 36, Coronado has accomplished a lot for his age. He earned his Master’s degree, married an Argentinian woman and now has one daughter and two sons who he will always push toward the path of success. He lives happily with his family in Sacramento and continues to accomplish his goals step by step, day by day.

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