“A free nation can rise no higher than the standard of excellence set in its schools and colleges.” John F. Kennedy
How prophetic these words, for it was how Dr. Consuelo Nieto lived her life. It was how she taught her students . . . “along the lines of excellence.”
She was an extraordinary woman with a passion to make a difference in the lives of young people through education. She was brilliant, fiercely determined, incredibly generous, ferociously loyal and, yet, vulnerable and deeply sensitive. Her courage and compassion revealed a nobility of soul and a rare depth of person. She spoke for those who had no voice and fought for those most in need. There was no bottom to her well.
Dr. Nieto exemplified the ideal of the verb “to teach.” She more than taught. She inspired, enlightened, and ignited her students to reach beyond their present level of growth . . . to excel..
She instilled in them a deep sense of self-worth and an unflinching conviction to never, ever give up on their dreams. Above all, she genuinely and profoundly cared for those whom she taught, not simply as students, but as valuable human beings. It was abundantly clear, in all she professed and in all she did as an educator, that, “Students come first. They always come first.”
As Margaret Costa, a former colleague, once wrote, “She was everyone’s teacher, colleague and mentor. She was the friend of all who believed in opportunity for all.” So it is sad to think that she is no longer here, that future students will never hear her voice or absorb her wisdom or experience the magic of her classroom. It is for this reason that the Consuelo Nieto Memorial Scholarship was created: to help first generation college students realize their passion to teach and their hope to make a difference in the urban classroom . . . students who, as it were, want to pick up her sword and rise to the challenge.
“Come, my friends, ’Tis not too late to seek a newer world . . . To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Alfred Lord Tennyson