Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Guzman.
Hi Linda, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents are immigrants and moved to the U.S. at a young age. I grew up valuing hard work, respect for others, and love of God. My father became a business owner, and I learned from his tenacity and resilience. My parents raised me to be open-minded and fearless. I just had a childhood friend call and say that my mom taught her to never conform, stand up straight, and be fearless. My mother was a true mentor to her.
I am a product of Catholic schools and value faith formation with academic growth. As I have grown into educational leadership, I think of what led me here. I grew up knowing that education opens doors. I received my B.A and Master’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s University, where I received mentorship from amazing professors that supported me throughout my educational journey. And just this Summer, my sister and I graduated with our doctorate degrees in educational leadership from Pepperdine University. Pepperdine University provided amazing experiences, community, and mentorship. I could have never completed this journey without the support of my sister.
As you can see from my journey, mentorship has been important. I truly believe mentorship is key to success in any field. The guidance of an individual that truly values you and wants to support your ideas. In my dissertation study “Hispanics school leaders and their impact on Education,” a key finding was the importance of mentorship. Up until my doctoral studies, I had never had a Hispanic mentor that looked like me, and I could relate to cultural similarities. During my doctoral studies, I was supported by two amazing Hispanic professors who truly have pushed me to expand my horizons as a leader. In a time when educators have been struggling to keep the passion for education and teaching, I find myself more motivated to support my students, parent community, and teachers. I am currently a school administrator at a school in Mid City, Los Angeles. I understand the challenges education has faced and will continue to face. But supporting students is my passion. When I have former students come and visit my school site and share their successes, I am like a proud parent. And when I see my students struggling and need support, I am like a comforting parent cheering them on. My hope is that all my students find mentors on my school site and that they feel that we are here to guide them and give them honest feedback.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
One of the biggest challenges in mentorship can be finding the time and the lack of representation and resources. Many of my teachers work long hours and have families. I sometimes find it difficult to juggle work, personal life, and school. But I believe that students are greatly impacted by having mentors that look like them and can share common experiences. It only takes a minute of your time daily to give a person a kind word or listening ear. In my school site, our students receive individualized support, attention, and guidance. Sadly this is not possible in all school communities. School administrators wear many hats and sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the needs. I have been serving my community for over a decade and believe that having diverse leadership is essential. Often, Hispanic leaders and teachers wish to serve populations that look like them but are forced to decide between higher pay or making a more significant impact. My wish is that educators would not need to choose between their calling in life or supporting their families financially.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a principal at a dual language immersion school in Mid-City. My goal as a school principal is to support my students, teachers, and parent community. Our school has a faith formation, language, and inclusion component. Our school values diversity and the love of language. My students learn in both Spanish and English. Although I serve a high population of Hispanic students, many do not speak Spanish fluently at home. But because of our dual language program, they are able to keep their heritage language and learn to be bilingual and bi-literate. It is also very exciting to have students who are not Hispanic pick up the language. I have a student from Haiti that will grow up speaking French, English, Spanish, and Creole. Imagine his possibilities when he grows up! Being proud of one’s culture and learning about other cultures is empowering.
I am most proud of my growth as an educator. By growing academically, I have developed my skills as an educational leader. The more preparation I have gained, the more my students are impacted. I am proud to be a positive example to all my students.
What sets me apart is that I can lead and take direction. No job is too little or too big to accomplish. I speak up and advocate for my students, teachers, and community. My students deserve to have a high-level education.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I believe that the most important characteristics for success are a willingness to want to learn, drive, resilience, and a positive attitude. The reason I say this is in order to grow in any field, you must want to be open to learning new things and getting out of your comfort zone. You need to be able to push through and not allow mistakes or failure to define you. And most importantly, have a good attitude. I always tell my students it won’t matter how many degrees they have or if you are intelligent; no one wants to be with negative people. If they have a bad attitude and are negative, they will have trouble in their career of choice. I give them examples of athletes or singers who might not have an innate talent for their craft, but they work hard, and people love to work with them. Be bold!