Director and Coordinator
Sonnya Luz Espinal, MA
Sonnya Espinal brings to Project ALERTA a passion for education and a commitment to helping under-served youth overcome obstacles and succeed in life. Born in Colombia and transplanted to the suburbs of New Jersey at the age of 5, Espinal had to prevail over many barriers herself in order to accomplish her goals and attain success.
Espinal believes that through self-confidence, determination, hard work and collaboration, one’s dreams can become reality. Prior to joining the ALERTA team at UMass Boston, Espinal served as program manager in the Youth Pathways Division of Commonwealth Corporation, where she focused on raising students’ academic performance while providing access to work experiences and other real-world activities.
Espinal also possesses significant professional experience in education, as an adult ESL teacher and high school Spanish teacher in the U.S., and as an English teacher abroad in Japan. She has also volunteered extensively in various nonprofit organizations to work with the international and immigrant population and to promote cultural diversity.
Espinal holds a BA in Spanish from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and a MA in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She also has her K-12 teacher certification in Spanish in NJ and PA and a MA initial teacher license in Spanish for grades 5-12.
Stephanie Lara, Coordinator
Stephanie comes to us as a proud ALERTA alum. She was an ALERTA student at the Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain years ago. She attended Madison High School during which time she also worked at Commonwealth Corporation as an intern through the Office Technology program at the Boston Private Industry Council. Stephanie was then hired as a part-time employee upon high school graduation and continued at Commonwealth Corporation for another year until she became one of our teaching assistants in the Summer ALERTA 2012 program and is now our Project ALERTA Coordinator. She is currently an undergrad student at Bay State College but hopes to transfer to UMass Boston in January 2013 to continue to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.