A Love of Spanish and Teaching led this Transfer Student and Foster Parent to Berkeley

June 25, 2024

Nicole Daena Leon Loya, a Berkeley transfer student from San Joaquin Delta College, has managed to balance numerous responsibilities while pursuing her educational goals. Loya brings a wealth of experience and a deep love for languages and education to Berkeley. Before coming to UC Berkeley, she worked full-time as a Spanish teacher. “I have been an assistant teacher at an Elementary Montessori school teaching Spanish since 2021 and I love the environment and their philosophy on teaching.”

Her journey, however, was not without its challenges. While working as a teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic, Loya had to take a break from her educational path to balance teaching and job and responsibilities as a foster parent. “I am also currently a Court Appointed Advocate with CASA of San Mateo.” CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children, is a non-profit that advocates for children in foster care. 

A native Spanish speaker, Loya hopes to spread her love of language learning. “I really enjoy studying Spanish linguistics and teaching pedagogy. I’ve learned so many aspects of the language that I never knew as a native Spanish speaker. What excites me the most is sharing that information with my parents and loved ones.” 

At Berkeley, she had the opportunity to learn about teaching K-12 Spanish in the U.S. “I recently took a class called Foreign Language and Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction, and found it really interesting and useful. I was able to use and take from what I learned into my Spanish classroom since the population I teach is non native in Spanish.” Her passion for teaching Spanish is powered by her desire to give back to her community.  

As a commuter student, Loya hopes to engage more with the local Berkeley community. In her free time, she enjoys being a florist, an activity that allows her to express her creativity and find peace amidst her busy schedule. “It would be cool to start a florist club!” she mused, reflecting on her desire to build connections and share her interests with others. Her business can be found on instagram: @goldentulipfloral.

Loya  emphasized her gratitude towards the professors at Berkeley, who played a significant role in her transition. Balancing her role as a foster parent with her academic pursuits was no easy feat, especially during her first semester. “The professors are very understanding, when it comes to deadlines and extensions,” she notes, appreciating their support and flexibility. 

With her degree in Spanish, Loya strives to get into a masters program to receive her teaching credentials. “With my degrees I hope to start my career to give back to my community. After teaching, I aspire to go into immigration law.”