by Christian A. Lopez
From the priesthood to youth adviser, Daniel Loera has experienced many life-enlightening experiences that are assets to his new position as Multicultural Affairs Director of the Institute for Multicultural Research and Campus Diversity at the University of La Verne.
Loera’s “journey,” as he refers to his achievements, began in the community of Azusa where he overcame an innumerable amount of negativity as an adolescent male growing up in his neighborhood.
“As a young person in my community, it [college] wasn’t something that was encouraged of me,” said Loera. “It just simply wasn’t a reality or possibility.”
This expectation to remain entrapped within the mediocracy and failure which devoured many of his peers, inflamed Loera to break through the stereotypes abiding within the streets in which he grew up.
“Growing up in Azusa and not having any mentors, I thought about college but had given up on going to college; All your classmates in your neighborhood get kicked out of high school, so I was expecting the same,” said Loera. “By the mere will of realizing that if I flunked out I would have no life choices around what I can do with my life; I decided graduation was a necessity.”
After achieving the unexpected, graduating from high school, Loera continued to further educate himself by attending Citrus College.
The continuous drive to better himself and his community that provided so little support, eventually led Loera on the road to become a priest. He attended St. John’s Seminary school for six years, and transferred to Mount St. Mary’s graduate program to pursue a master’s degree in religious studies.
In pursuit of the priesthood, Loera realized that he would take a different approach into giving back to his community as well as finding a different means of bringing in a better income.
“I realized to serve, to love and to give back, wasn’t necessarily the way that I needed to do that,” said Loera. “Also it just wasn’t a livable wage.”
This change of direction in his journey led Loera to work with youth. He took a position as an adviser at Chaplin Central Juvenile Hall in Eastlake.
His experience with troubled youth, put a burden on Loera to find a way to keep young people from even entering the doors of juvenile hall. He said he wanted to make sure that not only was he helping those inside the jail cells to get out, but also making sure he kept those outside from coming in. “I felt that I could work with young people in helping them stay out of juvenile hall,” said Loera.
This burden took Loera into the National Conference For Community Injustice program whose mission is to fight bias, bigotry and racism through conflict-resolution education.
Eventually the program, in which Loera dedicated 12 years of his life, diminished but Loera learned a valuable lesson in listening and exploring youth and adults in his community.
In December, Loera’s new found knowledge of dealing with people and a need to work in a human-relations environment took him to the University of La Verne where he was hired to replace Harvel Lewis as Multicultural Affairs Director.
In his new position as director, Loera has brought with him a new vision which he hopes to bring to the ULV.
“I’m really hoping I can be instrumental in helping to open up and create a safe place for us to talk about any and all things that will allow us to become more open, more honest, more able to talk about things were not generally used to or comfortable talking about with respect to who we are, how we see others and what support do we need,” said Loera.
Loera hopes he will be able to establish a peer-mentoring program that will provide consistent support to ULV.
If possible, Loera commented that he would love to turn a program such as this into a class in which not only one can come for support, but also to learn to provide it to others.
“This is as valuable a tool, a skill, than most other things might be,” said Loera.
Loera is considering being not only a part of the ULV community through employment, but also as student to finish his master’s degree.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.