What is L.O.V.E.?

L.O.V.E. inspires to become the best version of yourself.

Mission

The Latinas On the Verge of Excellence - L.O.V.E. Mentoring Program supports and empowers young Latinas to strive for success, both in school and in life, through health interventions targeted at mental, reproductive and physical health as well as career readiness and mentorship.

Goals

L.O.V.E. aims to provide young Latinas a gateway to lifetime health and success by providing targeted support in the areas of physical, mental and reproductive health in addition to career readiness and mentorship.

Objectives

  • Provide theoretical and practical evidence of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle to increase the probability of healthy lifestyles among young Latinas
  • Educate, promote and provide resources related to mental health such as information regarding comprehensive adolescent health centers. This will empower young women to love themselves by increasing their levels of self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence, independent of external world expectations
  • Educate and provide resources related to comprehensive sex education such as information regarding reproductive health care centers, which can teach young women to be sexually responsible
  • Provide academic, professional and business acumen through mentorship and access

Outcomes

  • Increase the likelihood of young Latinas to practice and lead healthy lifestyles
  • Decrease the rates of depression and suicide attempts among young Latinas
  • Aid, educate and provide resources to reduce high rates of teen pregnancy in the Latina community
  • Bolster educational achievement and career success among young Latinas

L.O.V.E. is a curriculum-based program with a main focus on the promotion of health, particularly physical, mental and reproductive health as well as career readiness through mentorship.

L.O.V.E. was devised to address the specific challenges that face adolescent Latinas in New York City. Issues with self-esteem, mental health and school retention harshly affect young Latinas, their development into women and their larger Hispanic community at greater rates than other racial or ethnic groups. By creating an environment focused on mentoring support and empowerment, L.O.V.E. intends to impact education by contributing to increased high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and healthy lifestyles among young Latinas.

Roles and Responsibilities

L.O.V.E empowers young Latinas to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their full potential. The mentoring program recruits female university students to support, guide, and be a role model to a young Latina for a period of a school year. By becoming part of the young Latina’s life, the mentor serves as a guide to help her achieve her academic and personal goals.

Mentor's Role

  • Take the lead in supporting a young Latina through an ongoing relationship
  • Serve as a positive role model
  • Build the relationship by planning and participating in activities together
  • Strive for mutual respect
  • Build self-esteem and motivation
  • Help set goals and work toward accomplishing them
  • Be a willing listener, encouraging, supportive, patient, flexible, and respectful of individual differences

Mentee's Role

  • Have a positive attitude and be respectful of mentor
  • Help set goals and work toward accomplishing them
  • View mentor as a partner—do not be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes
  • Commit to participating in activities with mentor
  • Utilize mentoring relationship by asking productive questions and using listening skills
  • Communicate openly and honestly with mentor—resolve differences by talking about them

The Benefits of the Mentoring Program

L.O.V.E. is unique because it maximizes the mentors and mentees proximity in age to facilitate association, comfort and trust. The mentee can more easily connect with the mentor and picture herself following in the mentor’s footsteps. The L.O.V.E. meetings provide a safe space for young Latinas to strengthen their skills and build self-confidence through positive reinforcement, consistency and understanding.

Benefits to Mentees

Mentees are given crucial academic support, including guidance for successful learning as well as a special focus on college readiness. L.O.V.E.’s teeming distribution of information regarding college and academics, its supporting encouragement of any pursuits helps young Latinas overcome, believe, and succeed.

Benefits to Mentors

Mentors receive the satisfaction in helping young Latinas achieve their educational and personal goals. The mentors inspire, motivate, and guide the mentees to strive for a successful future. Mentors also help raise levels of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-confidence, thereby raising academic achievements and quality of life.

Activities and Expectations

Program Activities

L.O.V.E. is a curriculum-based program that consists of three core components: personal empowerment, study skills, and college access. Each session has its own focus area and theme. Each mentoring session is a collective gathering of mentors and mentees, where participants engage in both group activities and one-to-one interactions, guided by a workshop.

Program Expectations

L.O.V.E.'s mission is to support and empower young Latinas by giving them the skills to achieve their educational, personal, and future professional goals. The mentoring relationship offers a powerful opportunity for both mentor and mentee to learn and grow. In order to take full advantage of the benefits a mentoring relationship can offer mentors and mentees should consider the following:

  • Attendance at weekly meetings is crucial to developing a sense of familiarity and trust between mentee and mentor.
  • Make a commitment to creating a successful mentoring relationship. In other words, make the effort to use time spent together in a constructive manner.
  • Talk about goals and expectations. It is important that mentor and mentee understand what each other hopes to gain from this experience.
  • As a role model the mentors will guide mentees by providing assistance, suggestions, and feedback.  This may mean providing help for homework, college applications, or suggestions/feedback for long-term or short-term educational or personal goals.
  • Discussions should not be one-sided. Both mentor and mentee should be careful listeners and actively exercise open, respectful communication.
  • Discover shared interests, but be respectful of differences. Mentors and mentees may have different ideas about how to reach a goal or solve a problem. This is part of the shared learning experience and should be openly discussed.
  • Mutual respect is key. Mentors and mentees must make the effort to communicate clearly, honestly, and respectfully in spite of potential differing opinions so that ultimately they can learn from one another.

The Founder

Claudia Espinosa

Ms. Espinosa moved to New York in the year 2000 from Cali, Colombia. As an immigrant in NYC she had to work harder to attain her goals because of challenges she faced such as English as a second language. She also became a personal trainer to support herself as a college student. In 2004, she continued her degree in psychology, which she had started in Colombia. In May of 2010, she received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Forensic Psychology with Magna Cum Laude honors from the City University of New York.

During her last years of school at CUNY, Ms. Espinosa began working in the nonprofit sector. Before graduating, she spent a year abroad at the University of Paris studying French. Upon her return to New York she began to work for the suicide prevention program, Life is Precious, where she had the opportunity to counsel Latina adolescents who suffered from depression and suicidal ideations.

During the course of her service work she became more aware of the inequalities that marginalized populations, such as immigrants and women, faced every day in the United States and around the world. Her wish to empower others led her to learn about amazing organizations that work to protect and defend human rights. Her experiences in the nonprofit sector helped her understand the disadvantages that her community experiences everyday and gave her the opportunity to create changes that can help Latino families live more positive lives. In 2010, Ms. Espinosa decided to pursue a second degree in public service to further support her community.

In May of 2013, Ms. Espinosa received her second Master's degree in Public Administration with an international specialization from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. Ms. Espinosa is currently pursuing the Ed.M. School Leadership Program (SLP) at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Ms. Espinosa currently devotes her time to her very own brainchild, the Latinas On the Verge of Excellence L.O.V.E. Mentoring Program. She created this program with the goal to support and empower young Latinas to strive in school, and ultimately increase high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and healthy lives among young Latinas. Ms. Espinosa is constantly striving to set new standards of personal, professional, and academic excellence, while never forgetting to honor her Latin roots and giving back to her community. She has always believed in justice and fairness, and that love and compassion need to be part of the practice of justice.