Like mother, like daughter

Harlandale ISD Gifted and Talented Middle School Teacher Ms. Maria Esparza changed her life through the power of education, and now her daughter, Elizabeth “Ellie” Herrera, is following in her footsteps.

Herrera graduated third in her class from Harlandale High School in 2015 and is currently an aspiring teacher in her second year at Palo Alto College. Her unwavering dedication to school recently earned her the 2+2 STEM Teacher Scholarship from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas.

The scholarship will fund her associate’s degree at Palo Alto College as well as her bachelor’s and teacher certification at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.   

“When I found out that I was going to be a recipient of this scholarship, I was ecstatic and full of joy,” Herrera said. “I immediately called my mother, the person who has had my back throughout all these years.”

Growing up, Herrera saw her mother change her life by gaining a college education. Esparza was a stay at home mom when Herrera was younger, but her desire to give her children a better future led her to Palo Alto College.

Soon enough, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M – San Antonio and became an elementary teacher. Her hunger for education, however, didn’t stop there. While teaching, she attended graduate school at UTSA and earned a master’s degree.

Esparza is currently celebrating her eleventh year as an educator.

“Seeing her overcome the odds and all the struggles shows me that I can achieve anything I want no matter how bumpy the road is to get there,” Herrera said.

Upon graduation, Herrera hopes to become a high school math teacher for Harlandale ISD. 

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