Loyola graduates are known for choosing careers that don't always provide an easy path. Juan Bottia wanted to teach bilingual elementary education but worried about whether he was up to the challenge of being responsible for students' education at such a critical, formative period in their lives. The passion he saw in his own teachers in Loyola’s School of Education solidified how vital the job was and gave him the confidence he needed. "Observing my Loyola professors and how much they love what they teach really inspired me."
Bottia also says he always felt supported by the faculty. "My professors were always willing to lend me a hand and help me." In fact, one of them helped Bottia land his teaching job.
Loyola’s emphasis on cross-cultural understanding and global perspectives helped prepare Bottia for the real-world classroom. Loyola’s own multicultural student body and location in Chicago, home to more than 100 ethnically diverse neighborhoods, augmented Bottia’s cultural literacy and his teaching experience. "Loyola gave me the opportunity to observe schools in the Chicago area," he says. "I was able to learn from a variety of environments and work with different ethnic backgrounds. It really expanded my world view and allowed me to really become a better teacher and prepare myself for this career—which takes a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and a lot of passion."
Now as a third- and fourth-grade bilingual teacher at an elementary school in suburban Chicago, Bottia works to inspire his own students, all of whom are learning to speak, read, and write in English for the first time. "We’re trying to let our students know that they can go to college one day. They are going to have the opportunity one day to make a career. A lot of these kids don’t know that."
Bottia’s Loyola education has prepared him to address the hopes and challenges of his classroom and our world. He exudes a critical Loyola belief—that with the right support and inspiration, one can prepare to lead an extraordinary life. That can be understood in any language.