Senior at Indiana University, majoring in elementary education with ESL license addition
Hometown: Elkhart, IN
Julian Luna has a mission. He wants to help first-generation college students like himself succeed. He plans to be a teacher, and aims to eventually start his own bilingual language immersion elementary school.
Financing an education: Luna discovered his love for teaching in high school, when he had an internship that took him to several elementary school classrooms. “I loved everything about the classroom environment and working with the kids,” he says, but “because of financial reasons, I didn’t think I could continue.” He’s grateful that one of his teachers, Peggy Presser, convinced him to stick it out.
“I originally was going to major in math and I knew I wasn’t going to be as happy. Fortunately, Mrs. Presser convinced me to stay with education, and I’m so happy she did. She said, ‘Julian, you have to do what you’re passionate about.’”
Luna, a 21st Century Scholar, was awarded the IU Covenant scholarship, which covers his room and board. While his 21st Century Scholarship helps pay tuition, he has had several summer jobs at IU, a work-study position at the Latino Cultural Center, and worked at the Boys and Girls Club in Bloomington.
“There’s always a way to pay for education. There are always opportunities, you just have to keep pursuing those scholarships.”
Giving back: Luna was a youth program coordinator at El Centro Comunal Latino in Bloomington, where he coordinated volunteers and helped provide tutoring services for ESL students. He also volunteered at IU’s La Casa/Latino Cultural Center after-school program and at a school’s ESL program. He’s a resident assistant for IU’s Groups Scholars Program, which helps underrepresented and first-generation students make the transition from high school to college.
Future plans: Luna is exploring grad school opportunities, plans to become a teacher, and eventually to start his own bilingual immersion school. “Spanish was my first language. In kindergarten and first grade I went to a private Catholic school where I received tutoring and remediation. I was able to pick up English really fast and tested out of ESL services. It’s a very scary experience not knowing the language. I love the concept [of a language immersion school]. It makes so much more sense when students are able to excel in their first language and be leaders in the classroom rather than being pulled out for language [classes].”
Advice: “Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, from people who live with you on the floor, your professors, your RAs. Follow your dreams, and follow your passions. I know that sounds corny, but you’re going to work so hard and you’re going to make a difference.”