Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Message to My Mentor

In the Mailbox

Dear Editor:

After reading Puerto Rico Sun's November 30, 2007 entry about a documentary on Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, I realized that one of the interviews featured in "Migration: The Puerto Rican Experience" happens to be with one of the most inspirational people in my life.
I met Alma Torres-Warner back in 1986 at a school in the Bronx. The New York City Board of Education had a program called the Auxiliary Services for High School (ASHS). The program offered preparations for the General Educational Development (GED), and I attended the one at 383 Willis Avenue on 138th St called The Roberto Clemente Center, where Torres-Warner was at the time the center administrator.
I remember I had just arrived that year to New York from Puerto Rico. I wanted
to something with my life and quickly decided to prepare for the GED, so I enrolled in Roberto Clemente Center. I was excited that I was doing something with my life, but I didn't have any idea as to where I was headed.
I used to arrive very early to Roberto Clemente -- sometimes before the staff. I remember Mrs. Torres-Warner would arrive and open the doors and allow me in. We would converse (which is a word she taught me) on the way up to the third floor.
Every morning, never missing a day, I arrived early to Roberto Clemente and met up with Mrs. Torres-Warner.
She later offered me a job with the New York City Board of Education as a
student aide, which I accepted. After obtaining my GED and attending Bronx Community College, she promoted me to a paraprofessional (assistant teacher).
Mrs. Torres-Warner became my mentor. She would always remind me of my potential. She saw something in me and gave me a chance, always telling me that I could do whatever I set my mind to do. But most of all she believed in me.
After working with Torres-Warner for a few years, she later transferred to ASHS headquarters, where I later joined her. I remember working for Marty Blum,preparing Lotus 123 spreadsheet documents. But it just wasn't the same. He wasn't Torres-Warner, so I decided to move on. I left the NYC Board Education and moved to the State of Virginia where I decided to pursue a degree in psychology.
Along the way, I lost contact with Torres-Warner.
I would like more than anything for Torres-Warner to know that I appreciate everything she did for me. She didn't know it at the time but she became my inspiration.
I never stopped trying. I have faced many obstacles but I never stop trying.
I thank her for being a great employer, a true mentor, and a dear friend.
I know she's out there helping and inspiring someone who needs it.
May God bless her.
I'm currently in NYC.
I am hoping to reconnect with my mentor.
I may be reached at hernandez.walter@gmail.com.
Thank you Puerto Rico Sun and God Bless.

Sincerely,


Walter Hernandez


Editor's Note: For more information on Bronxnet's documentary on the history of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, go to the PRSUN's archive section and click on the November 30, 2007 posting entitled "Migration" and visit www.bronxnet.org.
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