MEET OUR GRADUATE: On Her Way to Becoming a Teacher, She Will Serve in the Military

Genesis Aldana in her ARMY Uniform

“In July, I will be an active-duty second lieutenant,” says Genesis Aldana.

Ever since Genesis Aldana was five years old, she has dreamed of becoming a teacher. Nonetheless, she also loves serving her country, so after earning her B.A. in world languages education, with a concentration in Spanish and a minor in Latin-American studies in May, she will be taking a detour to serve in the U.S. Army. 

Aldana is a first-generation college student, whose parents immigrated to Rhode Island from Guatemala in the early 90s. Years ago, while attending Cranston High School East, her Spanish teacher recognized her desire to set an example for future generations and recommended she join the Heritage Spanish Program. The program focuses on developing multilingual and multicultural literacies by appreciating the heritage language. Participants develop linguistic, communicative, cultural and metalinguistic competencies.

Credits earned in this program counted toward RIC college credits, which motivated Aldana to enroll in RIC’s world languages education program. Every semester, she would take three Spanish language courses, reinforcing her vocabulary and proficiency and improving her reading and writing skills. 

“I grew up speaking Spanish, but my parents didn’t teach me to read or write in Spanish,” she says. “Learning language skills and the history of Spain and Spanish has taken me to a whole new level of proficiency. It also improved my understanding of the Latin American world.”

Since her freshman year, Aldana has been a member of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). ROTC provides leadership training, pays for her college education and guarantees a post-college career. In exchange, participants commit to serving in the military after graduation for four years.

“In July, I will be an active-duty second lieutenant,” she says. “Although it’s been a challenge – balancing school, work on weekends, taking classes, training three times a week and going out in the woods for four days at the end of each semester – I’m very happy.”

“Being part of this program has been a big honor,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot about myself, such as successful communication, emotional control, teamwork, embracing failure and understanding that every team member has their strengths.”

During her time at RIC, Aldana was part of the Spanish club UNIDOS and utilized resources from the Writing Center, Adams Library and the Military Resource Center.  

“The teachers at RIC are flexible and open-minded,” she says. “They’re supportive and willing to work with you. Professor David Ramirez taught me that teachers don’t always know the answer and that it’s okay to admit it, which means, as a teacher, sometimes I’ll have to re-teach myself.”

Aldana is looking forward to beginning her teaching career in Rhode Island. 

“I want to continue to share the Spanish language and culture because it’s a part of me. That’s why I got into teaching,” she says. “Students want to see someone like them in front of the classroom because it resonates with them and motivates them. I want to be an example for them. I want to teach them to keep moving forward and to chase their dreams, that they’ve got to keep their eyes on the prize.”