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Letter of Support for El Centro and director Elvira Prieto from 2019 Alumna

"I discovered that Elvira was always ready to lend an ear and offer valuable advice and support."

I am eternally grateful for the support I received from El Centro and especially Elvira during my time at Stanford. El Centro has always been a safe haven for students seeking a community and a home away from home and I can't stress enough how crucial this space is for the growth and success of many students on campus.

Back in 2015, when I arrived at Stanford as a first-generation Latino student, I was grappling with intense anxiety and guilt over leaving my family in Mexico. Deep down, I knew attending this university was an achievement to be proud of, but it was also heartbreaking to leave behind everything I knew and the expectations my family had for me. Walking into El Centro for the first time is a memory I'll cherish forever because it instantly felt like a welcoming environment. I was thrilled to have found a place where people like me could openly share their struggles and fears without fear of judgment.

El Centro's welcoming atmosphere was largely due to the positive energy emanating from the staff, particularly Elvira, who has been an influential figure in the community. I discovered that Elvira was always ready to lend an ear and offer valuable advice and support. She made a real difference.

At the end of my freshman year, during finals week, I received devastating news from my family—my father had been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and had only a few months to live. As a 19-year-old, I was shattered and lost, not knowing how to cope. I didn't reach out to Elvira initially because we weren't very close, but my friends who worked at El Centro shared my story with her. That summer, Elvira went out of her way to check on me and even sent flowers to my home, reminding me of the love and support I had waiting for me at Stanford—my new home. When the fall quarter arrived, she connected me with the right people to ensure I could take time off without jeopardizing my financial aid.

I'm not sure if she ever realized it, but her actions were what kept me going and made me feel like I had a home and people who genuinely cared about me. Without her support, I doubt I would have had the strength to return to school.

Looking back on my years at Stanford, I can confidently say that my experience, as well as that of many of my peers, wouldn't have been as positive without the unwavering support we received from Elvira.

As I share my story, I hope the community grasps the importance of having someone like Elvira at the helm of El Centro. Change is undoubtedly important, but it's equally vital to recognize that change can occur without violence and that people are willing to listen when things are done the right way.

Jacqueline Meza, Class of 2019

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