Date: June 4, 2001
Hispanic Graduate Part of Ongoing UC Legacy
By: Mary Bridget Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos by: Dottie Stover
Archive: Profiles Archive
The story of Elena Teran's family echoes that of countless others from current and previous generations: her parents came to the U.S. as immigrants looking for a better life for themselves and their children. Though they'd never gone to college, Elena's father (from Bolivia) and her mother (from Argentina) determined that their children would indeed get the chance to earn college degrees.
Elena, 22, and a resident of Cheviot, will make that dream come true when she graduates with a baccalaureate degree in anthropology and a minor in French on June 8. Her mother, brother, sister and friends will be on hand for the UC commencement to share the moment with her. Unfortunately, her father, Ismael Teran, passed away 12 years ago before he could see this day.
"My family sees this as quite an accomplishment. My parents never went to college. My brother and I are the first in our family to go to college. Mom always said, 'You're going to go to college.' Mom (Cecilia Teran) is already telling my sister (16-year-old Elvira) to decide on a major," said Elena who is following in the footsteps of her older brother, Gaston, who graduated with a degree in computer engineering from UC last year. It's likely that her younger sister will also attend UC.
Elena, a 1997 graduate of Walnut Hills High School, has earned high marks throughout her college career while also dedicating herself to community and campus leadership through Latinos en Accion (LEA). In recognition of her academic excellence and leadership, Elena received a Darwin T. Turner Scholarship, and she was the first-ever recipient of the Rafael Rennella Scholarship. That $1,000 scholarship, first given last year, memorializes the leadership and service of a young graduate, Rafael Rennella, who died unexpectedly in 1995 at the age of 26.
"The programs (the Turner Scholarship Program and the Rennella Scholarship) helped to develop my pride. It motivated me to do more to help other people, to be a leader," explained Elena. She also said that both programs pushed her to maintain academic excellence and to realize the value of her education. "They also helped me to participate in school more fully even though I live at home and am a commuter student. They gave me ready access to friends on campus, helped me to meet people of all ages and all ethnic groups."
As part of her service on behalf of LEA, Elena helped collect and send food and clothing to Venezuela after an earthquake in 2000. She helped send similar aid to Central America after Hurricane Mitch. She also helped to organize dances and other events raising funds for the Rennella scholarship and welcomed other prospective Hispanic students to campus through programs sponsored by UC's Admissions Office.
Elena said that she has grown and benefited from her variety of leadership activities while taking a full-load of courses and working. "UC really helped my organizational skills. I know how to prepare a special event like a dance and how to organize it. I know how to organize relief aid. It not only gave me skills but brought me out of my shell because I was shy when I came here," she confessed before adding, "I'm still shy but less so."
Within a year's time, Elena plans to continue her education, pursuing advanced degrees in anthropology after working in France for a few months.
To find out more about commencement, go to the commencement page.
To read about others in the UC community, go to our profiles archive.