Desaray Cruz, a soon-to-be first-generation college graduate majoring in elementary education, recently gave back to teachers at Freeman Elementary School for her ASC capstone project.
Here on campus Cruz has been involved in the ASC Service Award program all four years and has joined the brand-new Teachers Club. She also is a student worker at Newman for the Runway Learning Center on the third floor of Sacred Heart Hall.
So far, Cruz has completed more than 315 hours of volunteer service as part of the requirements for the Newman ASC Service Award. Throughout all of her volunteer work, Cruz said that her favorite opportunities were serving at The Lord’s Diner as well as helping students Amy Ponce and Cassidy Garretson with their capstone projects.
Being an ASC scholar has been an incredible experience for Cruz, she said.
“I’ve loved growing with my classmates and serving those in this community these past four years. Many experiences have opened my eyes and allowed me to give back to my community. Coming from a first-gen background, I see where I was and where I am now and am grateful for all of my volunteering experiences,” Cruz said.
For her senior ASC capstone project, she wanted to focus on giving back to teachers. Cruz, with the help of her sister and friends, made gift baskets consisting of coffee cups, classroom supplies, candy, manipulatives (such as blocks, geometry builder sets, etc.), a thank you card and more for the teachers at Freeman Elementary School. With her friends’ help, they were able to gather and make the baskets at The Landing thanks to the kindness of Sister Patty Owens, ASC.
“I know with COVID and other factors, teachers needed a little pick-me-up, even if it is something as little as a basket with notes and things. My sister and my closest friend were supportive of me and went around and helped me deliver the many baskets we had door to door for every teacher at Freeman Elementary,” Cruz said.
Cruz was glad to give back to teachers and said it brought her joy as every one of them was super grateful, kind and appreciative.
“I wanted to show my appreciation to them as I know they truly need it for all they do. It made me happy delivering my baskets to them and seeing their faces light up,” Cruz said.
Many experiences have opened my eyes and allowed me to give back to my community.Desaray Cruz, first-generation elementary education student
“My capstone has allowed me to do something I love within my future profession, yet still do something that puts a smile on these teachers’ faces,” Cruz said. “Being able to observe [at the school] all semester has allowed me to be familiar with staff and teachers who see me on almost a daily basis, and it is nothing but positive interactions. I am glad to have chosen a school such as Freeman overall.”
Even though Cruz didn’t start as an elementary education major, she is glad she chose it. She has always had a passion for working with kids and said switching majors was “the best thing that could have happened.”
“Knowing that you can make a difference in a student’s life is what keeps me going, and I can see that during my observation times out at these schools as well,” Cruz said. “I want to be a teacher; to be someone who students can look up to. Growing up, I had amazing teachers, and they led me on a great path. At Newman, I have had many amazing teachers; Angie McCoy, Janet Jump and Dr. (Huachuan) Wen just to name a few.”
Being a first-generation college student and future teacher, Cruz said she is proud of it and that it is very fulfilling. In May she will be the first in her family to walk across the stage and graduate from college.
“Coming from that background and a Latino family, I am happy that my name will soon be Ms. Cruz and carry my name as I teach. My family is very proud of who I have grown to be,” Cruz said. “It is fitting that I become a teacher for those students who are like me and show them that anything they set their mind to is possible even with hardships that can come with that.”
It is fitting that I become a teacher for those students who are like me and show them that anything they set their mind to is possible even with hardships that can come with that.Desaray Cruz
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