Inspiring Communities

Mrs.Hemphill in her ESL classroom. (Janet Ortiz-Macias )

Rosalia Hemphill Barajas, better known as Ms.Rosie is an ESL teacher at LCN where she works with students from different backgrounds.

Hemphill is the first generation in her family that attended college; she got her bachelor’s degree in special education, and a minor in bilingual education. She graduated from Central Michigan University. She always knew that wanted to make a difference. Hemphill says, “When I saw the Hispanic drop off rate, I knew I wanted to make a difference and work with kids of my culture ”.

From a young age, Hemphill was taught by her mother that education was a priority, it was the most important thing, and the only thing she should focus on. She was always told by her mother that her only job was to go to school, and always would encourage her to go to college. Education for Hemphill is a bright future. Hemphill says “Education is something once you get it  no one can take it from you”.

Hemphill felt the high expectations from her mother, Hemphill mentioned, “it made me want to achieve more, I knew she expected more of me so I expected more of myself, I felt that someone believed in me and I could do it”. Hemphill feels proud of herself for being a first generation student of an immigrant family, and thankful towards her parents for always wanting more and the best for her even though they did not have the same opportunities.

Hemphill got through to college with financial aid and side jobs. The high school counselor was always there helping her with scholarships and financial aid. She also  got support from her family which was more important to her. Even though her parents did not have the financial stability to get her through college, they always tried to support her, so she and her siblings could do better in life and not settle for little.

According to Hemphill, attending college can be more difficult for first generation students because sometimes their parents don’t have the same knowledge as other students’ parents that have already attended college. In her personal experience, her parents were not informed about all the resources out there, also the English barrier was an important factor. Hemphill says, “I remember them saying mija maybe you can’t go to college, we don’t have the money for it”.

Hemphill enjoyed political science, but she wanted to make a difference in the world. When she noticed the high Hispanic drop off rate, she knew she wanted to make a difference in those kids and inspired them to make them know that someone believes in them and they can do better. She wants them to follow their dreams and not to settle for less.  Hemphill says, ‘’I want my kids to get through high school and continue their education”,