During this holiday season, we want to shine a light on Matadors who regularly give the gift of their time to efforts and causes dear to their hearts, both on and off campus. These students add regular volunteering to the daily juggle of classes, homework, jobs and family time. We are thrilled to share more about students who have turned their passion for their subjects into gifts for others.
Meet Betsy Benavides, Graduate Student in Linguistics, Volunteer ESL Tutor
Betsy Benavides, 23, is in the thick of her graduate studies in linguistics and certificate program to teach English as a second language (ESL) in the College of Humanities. These days, it seems her life is all about fostering literacy: in her work-study program, each week, she and other Jumpstart Corps members travel to the Arthur Avila preschool program in Canoga Park to teach a book-centered lesson to 3- and 4-year-olds.
During this fall semester, the Van Nuys native headed to the Los Angeles Public Library in Panorama City twice a week to tutor English as a second language. Her student was a grandmother who wanted to read to her grandchildren. Benavides says as a teacher, patience and encouragement are key skills.
“Any time you learn something involving language, it’s a slow process,” she explained. “It’s easy for the students to get frustrated. I think it’s important, as the teacher, to be supportive and just continue to push through with them and help them whatever way you can,” she said.
Benavides acknowledged her current work-study program and volunteer effort are helping prepare her for her career. She wants to eventually teach ESL to adults. But Benavides said there are other benefits to giving back.
“My mom was a very active volunteer in my elementary school, so that was something that was instilled in me, since I was a child,” she said. “It’s just something that I feel I need to do. I think the world would be a lot better if people just took a couple of hours a week or maybe even a few minutes a day to help someone else.”
Benavides said her volunteering will continue next year– she’s preparing to teach an ESL course through the public library.
Benavides plans on graduating with her master’s degree next fall.
“I love being in school, so I’m going to be sad when I graduate,” she said. The Matador has words of advice for people who have considered volunteering their time but haven’t stepped out of their comfort zone.
“It can be scary, but we all have knowledge that we don’t even realize we could use and apply somewhere that could help others.”