Maria Lupita Soto Torres
Maria Lupita Soto Torres immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 9-years-old, without knowing a word of English. Despite these early challenges, she went through school and eventually graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in Family and Child Studies (FCS).
Soto Torres has invested over eight years in advocacy and educational work with the Hispanic community. Specifically, she focuses her efforts on helping Hispanic women, who traditionally do not access to educational opportunities. Additionally, she devotes her time to helping younger generations of Hispanic students access scholarships and other resources in pursuit of their educational and career goals.
In 2013, Soto Torres joined Louisiana Delta Community College as an instructor for their adult education program. While working with Spanish-speaking adult education students, she completed her LCTCS WorkReady U Adult Education Certification. She later joined Bossier Parish Community College’s (BPCC) College Transition Programs department as the only Spanish-language high school equivalency coordinator. In her role as lead educator and coordinator for Hispanic students who live in the 11-parish region BPCC serves, Soto Torres creates courses and instructs a curriculum of her own design tailored to the particular educational and soft-skills needs of her local Hispanic community. As part of her responsibilities within College Transition Programs, she is the lead math instructor within College Transition Programs’ Allied Health Career Pathway. In this role, she facilitates instruction in both English and Spanish based on the needs of the specific student.
Soto Torres also serves as a Title IX confidential adviser. In conjunction with her campus-wide availability for students, she uses her role to ensure that BPCC’s Hispanic student population has a proactive resource for their mental health and overall well-being.
Soto Torres also regularly volunteers at the campus food bank to assist in translation services. Her efforts in supporting the food bank and food distribution resulted in an 80 percent retention rate for BPCC Hispanic students.
When she is not engaged in on BPCC’s campus, Soto Torres volunteers her time to serve as an interpreter and advocate for members of her local Hispanic community. She has developed close working ties with the Mexican Consulate based in New Orleans, and biannually, Soto Torres and the consulate host a multi-day opportunity for the local Hispanic community to meet with representatives of the Mexican government in an effort to provide them with local and secure access to documentation and resources without the need for travel to New Orleans.
Soto Torres’ FCS degree has helped her work with children and adults throughout her career.
“The program teaches you how to really care about people,” Soto Torres said. “My experience at Louisiana Tech was the best. Faculty members care about students, and students really learn the necessary skills in order to succeed in the real-life world.”