The First Generation
Gabriela Nuñez-Reagan is a first grade bilingual education instructor in Belvidere, Ill. a town twelve miles from to Rockford. She was also a recipient of the first ever Viva Quad Cities scholarships in 1994.
Nuñez-Reagan was a three year winner of the scholarship and said only a few won the award that first year. “It helped me a lot because before Viva, there were not a lot of scholarships for Hispanics in the area,” she said.
She graduated from Western Illinois University with a Bachelors Degree as a Bilingual-Bicultural teacher and received her
masters from Northern Illinois University as a reading/special education instructor. Nuñez-Reagan came to the United States from Celaya, Guanajuato Mexico in tenth grade and attended Moline High School.
“It was very hard the first year. I didn’t have a lot of support, I wanted to drop out and go back to Mexico,” she said.
With the help of Stephanie Jordan, an ESL instructor at Moline High School she learned English and later was enrolled in the honor classes.
“I wanted to be a teacher because of her and I wanted to become a bilingual teacher,” Nuñez-Reagan said.
As a bilingual instructor who had to deal with the language barrier as well as other hardships that immigrant students face when they first arrive, she feels like she can understand where they come from.
“I know about the culture and understand the families and where they come from. That’s why I became a bilingual teacher to help the Hispanic community, just to give back,” she said.
Gabriela Nuñez-Reagan is the daughter of Jose and Carmen Nuñez and is now married with a child Brianna and is expecting a second one.
“I’m very grateful to my parents who brought me to this country and for all the moral support and encouragement to be something in life. They’re doing the same with my brother, Jose and sister Elia,” she said.
Her brother, Jose Nuñez is a recipient of the Viva Quad Cities scholarship this year and is studying electrical engineering.
“She (Gabriela) inspired me because I guess I want to show my parents that I can reach my goal and graduate from college,” he said.
Gabriela Nuñez-Reagan agreed saying that she wanted them to keep trying.
“We face many struggles with family but si se puede. We need them, lots of them,” she said.
The Next Generation
Marisol and Sandra Treviño are newer recipients of the award. Marisol works for AT&T as a customer consultant. Sandra works for AmeriCorp a company that provides free non-criminal legal assistance for low income families.
The two sisters want to further their education. Marisol already has a B.S. in Business administration and a B.A. in Spanish. She wants to also get a Masters in business and use that degree in her career. She was a three time award winner of the scholarship. Sandra wants to go to law school and eventually get her J.D. which is needed to become a lawyer. She was a two time winner of the scholarship.
The young ladies are daughters of Juan and Lilia Treviño of Rock Island and gave credit to their parents on pushing them about how important education was. Juan was adopted in Tamaulipas and Lilia is from El Valle de Guadalupe, Michoacan, Mexico.
“They were very open to it,” Marisol Treviño said about the numerous years in college.
“But at the same time it was difficult because they didn’t go through the same things we were going through so they didn’t understand why we needed to stay out late at the library.” Sandra Treviño said.
Both girls attended a Catholic school, Alleman High School and said the transition from public to private school was the most difficult thing. They agreed that the school prepared them for college.
Sandra Treviño is looking forward to becoming a professional, being respected and having that prestige, saying that was what pushed her through college.
“I had to do this, so if anybody had a doubt in me, I’m going to prove them wrong when I finish,” she said.
Marisol Treviño would like to see more Latinos in higher power, having higher positions saying it would be a great motivational tool.
“In the near future, we’re going to be the majority but at the rate we’re going, we have nothing to show for it. To me I don’t want to be a statistic, what motivated me was to be a Latina who went to school and succeeded,” she said.
Viva Quad Cities President, Luis Puentes who’s own daughter received a Viva award and is now a teacher herself; he spoke as a parent seeing their child win a scholarship.
“Whenever a child is awarded a scholarship, it’s a privilege. There’s many who apply but only a few get those scholarships,” he said.
The First Generation