Mirna, 24, is in her last year at the Universidad de El Salvador, where she is studying English with an emphasis in Teaching. She lives at home with her father, a small farmer, her mother, a shopkeeper, and younger sister, who is also studying to become a teacher at the Universidad de El Salvador. Her brother, sister-in-law, and young nephew live in a house nearby. Mirna wants to teach in her community, where the K-9 school is so small that no English classes have ever been offered. She is currently enrolled in English Didactics II, English Composition II, Advanced Intensive English II and Introduction to Linguistics.†Mirnaís classes begin at 8 most days and donít end until 5pm. She travels each day on public transportation from El Espino to San Salvador.†The trip to the university can take upwards of two hours, depending on the unpredictable traffic.

We asked Mirna to tell us a little about her to help you get to know her better. Below are her responses!

What are some of your professional aspirations?

After I finish college I want to find a job that both helps me support my family and allows me to help children and young people continue their studies. Moreover, I want to run my own English school, which is something Iíve thought about since high school.

Why do you think your education is important?

Education is really important because itís the means through which people can develop, learn more about society and be able to leave poverty behind.

Describe someone who has inspired or motivated you:

I clearly remember one teacher in high school who really encouraged me to go to college. I wasnít sure what I wanted to study, but she always told my friends and me how important it is to become professionals. I think about those talks she had with us whenever I see her. I really admire her and itís because her English classes were so great that English became my favorite subject and is what Iím now studying.

How has the crime/violence in this country affected you personally?

I have been the victim of theft and the authorities in our country are doing nothing.

How do you think positive change can come about in your community or country?

Positive changes can be achieved though improvements in education and, at the same time, individuals need to act as agents of change.

What is your community service project?

I am working with the other scholarship students on the Clean Water Project, which involves the maintenance of water filters [that we previously installed in peopleís homes] to make sure they are in good working condition. They are really important because they prevent people from getting sick and save those same people money.

What do you do in your free time?

During my free time between classes, I hang out with my friends from college. When Iím at home, though, I donít have a lot of free time, but when I do, I sometimes sleep.

What is your favorite book or genre?

My favorite book is Edgar Allan Poeís ďExtraordinary Stories,Ē which is part of the horror genre.

What is your favorite music?

My favorite kinds of music are electronica and†salsa, which both make me feel relaxed and happy.

What are your best qualities?

I think my best quality is that Iím honest in everything I do.

What is something surprising about you that only a few people know?

When I was in my motherís womb, about 7 months along, my mom fell and hit her stomach. She tells me that my little head hit against a rock,†which led to a lot of complications. After I was born, I was hospitalized at 11 days old and was in delicate health. I was prescribed these really bitter pills until I was 7 that I had to take. I also had to go to regular doctorsí appointments to get my head examined. I remember one time my parents wouldnít let me sleep for a whole night. My siblings kept me distracted with a picture storybook and the next day my dad took me to the hospital. When we got there, I remember they put a ton of wires on my head. That treatment went on until I was 7 years old. It was really difficult for my parents, because they were constantly worried about me. Sometimes I feel useless because I am sure that my potential intelligence was damaged, which is what the doctors told my parents. Sometimes, though, we just criticize people without knowing what obstacles or problems they have faced. I donít really like to talk about all this because it always makes me cry, but Iím really grateful for my scholarship and for the opportunity I have to keep studying.