The picture of a student crumpling under the normal pressures of higher education is a worn cliché. Yes, being a college student is difficult in the best of circumstances, but couple the confusion of the freshman experience plus a global lockdown caused by a deadly pandemic and no one would blame a student for caving under the strain. But not Elijah Mendez, a first year history major at Sierra College and an aspiring teacher. He isn’t letting the pressures of COVID-19 overtake him.
The above 13-minute video features an interview with Dr. Reyes Ortega about his work with the Puente program at Sierra College and his legacy as he enters into retirement. After the interview in the video, two former students share personal tributes. In the written article below, other former students pay tribute to their transformative teacher and offer advice to future students.