This week was filled with variety of tasks. My position consists mainly of office work and research. However, I also have the opportunity to skip around and visit a variety of national parks that my team oversees in the East Bay area. This week I attended a ranger talk at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, given by the famous Betty Reid. It was the highlight of my week! Betty, at 95 years old, is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service (NPS). Her talk, called “Of Lost Conversations,” is about her experiences as a young black girl during Jim Crow and living through WWII, the Civil Rights movement, and up until her experiences as an adult, including attending the inauguration of President Obama. Her story is one of an outlier. She escaped her fate of being a house servant or a labor worker, and instead she seized opportunities to be her own boss and to better her education. She could have been complacent and followed a similar path as her family members and others around her, but she didn’t; instead she dreamed big and took on the challenges life threw at her. One of the most beautiful points of her talk was when she connected her life path with the women that came before her, her grandmother and her mother. It made me think about my own grandmother and my mom, and I thought about all of the hardships they have gone through and all the things they have done so that their kids could have a better life. If it wasn’t for my hardworking, patient, and kind grandmother, who instilled the same values in her own kids, I wouldn’t be living the life I am now. Betty Reid makes you think of your whole life in a different perspective and makes you feel thankful for the strong, resilient women that raised you. It was awe-inspiring.

This week I also took a trip to the NPS regional office in San Francisco. I met Naomi Torres, the Superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, as well as other LHIP interns in the Bay Area. It was a lot of fun connecting with young Latinas like myself, who are striving to change the NPS by providing a new perspective and ideas. We started a group text and are planning on going on hikes or just hanging out in the city soon! It reminds me of the importance of connecting and encouraging others to keep moving forward.

This week brought home to me that individuals don’t ever succeed by themselves; they require a community, support, and the seizing of opportunities.

Hope you all have a fun-filled weekend!

 

Betty’s Photo
http://richmondconfidential.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/IMG_0059.jpg

 

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Written by Ilianna Padilla
My name is Ilianna Padilla and I am a graduate student at Cal State Long Beach studying Environmental Geography. I love all things wild, being in the outdoors, and traveling. What sparked my interest in nature was reading literature that fed my imagination with beautiful descriptions of wild landscapes that seemed so distant for someone who grew up in a densely urban environment like myself. This is why I want to continue working towards connecting people with the outdoors because I believe that it is crucial to our own well being as well as the health of the natural environment. In the future, I hope to have a career in the National Park Service or run my very own nonprofit organization. This summer I hope to gain a deeper insight on all the great things the National Park Service foes as well as take part in their mission of becoming more relevant to all communities.