by Isabella Calderon
It was a late winter storm that greeted my sister, mother and I as we stepped outside the Reno/Tahoe airport. Strong gusts of wind shook our rental car as we drove through the icy road to Carson City. We arrived at the Capitol and feared walking through the cold winds and snow piles. Luckily, a nice woman offered to take us to the Legislature in her enclosed golf cart. We braved the weather to meet an amazing person, Assemblywoman Erica Mosca. Ms. Mosca is truly awe inspiring as the first person in her family to go to college. She made history by being the first Assemblywoman in Nevada of Philippine descent! Ms. Mosca founded a nonprofit called Leaders in Training (LIT), which helps students like her to not only go to college but also become leaders in their communities. Before she became an Assemblywoman, she was a fifth grade teacher at Teach With America, Las Vegas. She also had access to a nonprofit called 10,000 Degrees. She graduated as Summa Cum Laude from Boston University and got her Masters In Education from Harvard. Ms. Mosca is working tirelessly to support the education of underrepresented students.
I got the chance to visit Assemblywoman Erica Mosca and ask her a few questions about education.
IC: First of all, how does it feel to be part of history as a Filipina Nevadan woman?
Assemblywoman Erica Mosca (AEM): Wow! I feel very honored to be a part of history. I think of two things. I think of all the women that came before and did not have the opportunity to be in this seat, and those who did the work so I can be up here. And then, I think of people like you and your sister who I know will be the people that come next.
IC: What is your main goal this year for Nevada?
AEM: My main goal for Nevada this year is twofold. First, I want to bring as many regular people up from Las Vegas to come and experience Carson City. So far, every week people have been coming and I am really proud of that. My other goal is bills, legislation, or laws and that is all about education and making sure that our students who need the most help can have the resources and support that they need.
IC: What are your plans for the shortage of teachers in Clark County?
AEM: That is definitely a very difficult thing that’s happening right now. We really need to focus on “Grow your Own.” I have students who have been with me for many years who are now teachers in the Clark County school district. So, “Grow Your Own” means that when they are in middle and high school, how do we make sure they have internships, practice opportunities, credits? There’s a bill to make sure that they can go to college for free if they teach for a certain amount of years. So I am very excited to support that. That’s what I did, I did a program where I taught for a couple of years and gave back to the community and I know that will help get us teachers.
IC: Besides raising the budget, how do we create more educational opportunities for K-12?
AEM: Yes, I think other than money there are so many other things that we can do. One of the bills that came out from someone in our party is to really study the outdoors. How we can get more young people to have opportunities to learn about the outdoors and go outside. That’s a study, there’s no money yet but we’re gonna study that. Things like today where we bring young people up to Carson City or we support them through things like the Nevada Youth Legislature which are High Schoolers that are actual Senators that apply and advocate for bills. There are a lot of ways that we can support young people. I think the biggest thing that we can do is advertise them better so everybody knows about it.
IC: What can you do this year to encourage kids to go to college?
AEM: Oh yes, and you know that is what my whole life’s work is all about. I think of three things to help young people encourage them to go to college.
Take them on a campus tour, let’s go on a field trip, have free food, go and see the dorm and see its school, and see that it’s accessible.
I think young people, college students from the community who look like the students come out and talk about their experience, talk about how they did it.
And third, we know parents are so important. All parents love their kids. And if you did not go to college yourself, like my own parents, they just needed the information and support to help me, and also work directly with families to make sure they also have the opportunities.
IC: Thank you so much for your time and interview.
AEM: Thank you for this interview!