Multiethnic, multilingual student seeks to serve others in our global society.
Gabriella Pinheiro-Chavez ’14 grew up in a multiethnic home in La Mirada, Calif., speaking Spanish, Portuguese and English with her Brazilian mother and El Salvadorian father. A communication studies and
Spanish double major, Gabriella was initially interested in earning a degree in business and economics at Westmont, but she quickly discovered a passion for Hispanic culture and language.
Last fall, she took part in Juntos, her first exposure to Mexico. “It was scary at first not having any knowledge of what I was getting into, but I approached it as one of those things you have to do at Westmont. That one weekend shaped my following two years at Westmont.”
Gabriella co-directs Vacation Bible School for Potter’s Clay. She has served at a Guatemalan orphanage through Emmaus Road and will enroll in Trinity Christian College’s Semester in Spain program her senior year. She has been using her multi-cultural, bilingual skills in the local community as well, serving as an intern for two semesters at the Unity Shoppe and volunteering with Westmont’s Latino Cultural Organization and Bread of Life ministry.
“I most enjoy talking cross-culturally, and I hope to pursue a career abroad as a translator or at a non-profit,” she says.
As a leader for the upcoming Potter’s Clay trip, Gabriella is looking forward to seeing her work come to fruition. “When people who have common interests and passions come together and do their best to work toward a common goal, that’s when things get accomplished for the glory of Christ and not for our own gain,” she says. “Through my experience and serving on different teams, I’ve recognized that when you come together with like-minded people, work toward a common goal, be humble and prayerful and look to imitate Christ, the result will be for the right purpose.”
This year, along with medical, dental and hair-cutting teams, Potter’s Clay is adding a nail-care ministry in an effort to pamper women from the local community. “In the past, the women that we’ve interacted with work hard to take care of their families,” she says. “We’re also inviting prostitutes in the hopes of having a conversation and listening to them while doing their nails.”
Gabriella says she has grown spiritually in her walk with Christ while at Westmont. “I’ve been able to recognize the love that Christ has for me and His people,” she says. “I’m a relational person and, through my various activities, I’ve witnessed that firsthand. My scope and understanding of God’s kingdom has also expanded, and through my relationships I’ve been able to feel loved as well.”
Gabriella says she tries to live her life by having an attitude of gratitude. “It’s so easy to forget the different ways that we have been blessed,” she says. “I am grateful for Westmont, where I can live out my faith in a community of believers and not be afraid of being judged or having to hide that part of myself.
“My decision to come to Westmont was based largely on the financial aid package I received,” she says. “I feel very blessed for the people who have come alongside me to help me get this education. That’s something I am grateful for.”
She has cherished her classes with professors Greg Spencer and Mary Docter. “Dr. Spencer pours energy and passion into what he teaches every class,” she says. “He allows us to ask questions and, in the end, we will have a better grasp of the information because he interacts with students and allows us to search for answers.
“Mary Docter is fun and loves what she teaches, which makes us want to enjoy it, whether it’s an ancient Spanish literature class or talking cross-culturally in between classes.”