Hello, my name is David Godoy, and I was born in El Salvador in 1987. During that time, my home country was experiencing a civil war. Even though I was a child, I still have vague memories of unrest from that period. As a young family, my parents wanted something better for my baby sister and me, so we packed up and immigrated to Los Angeles.
I'm the eldest child in my family and I was the first to attend school in this new country. My parents enrolled me at Longfellow Elementary in Azusa. When it came time to attend kindergarten, I only spoke Spanish and felt scared to start school in this new land. Our program was bilingual, so even though we spoke mainly Spanish, our teacher slowly introduced us to English to adjust to the change.
If there was ever a person who lifted me up during a vulnerable time, it was my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Sylvia Schwartz. Through her kindness, patience, and treating me like a capable individual, her actions showed me how we influence one another, whether it be positively or negatively. That was when I decided to be a force for good in this world.
Even though I wasn't entirely sure how I wanted to serve, I always marched forward with that desire in my heart. After graduating from West Covina High School, I enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College because I thought it was the thing to do. Being a first-generation college student, I faced significant challenges and difficulties. I remember feeling so lost and confused with no direction or sense of how to be a college student. I trudged forward aimlessly.
During my second attempt at community college — this time at Chaffey College — I discovered my potential career path as an English college professor. I have always loved reading and writing. Encountering an English professor affirmed a fantastic career path. No matter how long it took me, I procured to move toward this dream.
With much perseverance, I graduated from community college without guidance or a car. Nevertheless, I was filled with pride and happiness when I finally achieved this milestone. When I transferred to Cal State San Bernardino, my parents could not offer financial help toward my studies. This was a blessing in disguise because it made me ramp up my efforts to seek financial aid and extra work.
After working in a pizza shop, I answered an email from a company that offered an opportunity to tutor low-income students. Having had the chance to work with these students, many of them from Spanish-speaking households like mine, gave me the 'aha!' moment I had been seeking. I discovered I could help my students shift from a self-view of incapability to capability. This was my hidden power, just like my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Schwartz, had done for me. I, too, guide my students with kindness, patience, and through a strength-based approach. Her legacy lives on in me and, by extension, through the students I can serve. Life has come full circle, and now I find myself in a position where I can give back and contribute to the change that I want to see in this world. My aim is to move away from destruction and harm, and towards a path of love and construction.
As an English professor, I continue to treat my students with generosity and kindness. I began teaching college in 2017 as an adjunct instructor. I've worked at Riverside City College, Chaffey College, Mt. SAC, and Citrus College. I am honored to say that I was hired full-time at Citrus College in 2022. The dream I procured in my heart many years ago as a younger man germinated into an invaluable opportunity. My parents came to this country so we could have a better life. Who would have thought their sacrifice would, through my service, also contribute toward hopefully a better life for others? That is how altruism and legacy work: you invest in others, and they pay it forward, investing in others, as well.
The legacy of my kindergarten teacher lives on. Even though I did not have too many mentors to guide me, I want to give others the help I so desperately needed when I was in college, as a first-generation college student and immigrant in a new land.
As a Men of Color mentor, I want every student to know that I am here to help in any way I can. Whether your story is similar to mine or even if you can draw inspiration from it, please know I am here to help.