Staff Highlight: Mr. Espinoza

An interview with the UOP Tiger.


Image of Mr. Espinoza.

Julian Leal, Writer/Editor

On Thursday, January 19, 2023, I sat with Mr. Ernesto Espinoza, a college academic counselor here at Langston Hughes Academy. He has experience working as a counselor at University of the Pacific, the home of the Tigers. I interviewed him to better understand the nuances of working with children other than teaching them, and I took notes of our conversation.

On a day-to-day basis, Mr. Espinoza answers emails and updates seniors’ grad plans. However, his job is very mixed and spontaneous, as every day has new random and exciting tasks to get done. There are many forms of student counseling, and counselors often have to work through multiple.

I asked him about how he likes working in the counseling center, and he said “I would love to have my own office.” However, he loves being able to work one-on-one with his students in his current position. School counselors try to be personal with the students so that the interactions are not so robotic. He would want his own office so that his students could be more comfortable talking about sensitive topics, rather than in a room full of other students.

Mr. Espinoza enjoys working with awesome achievers in high school, especially seniors getting ready to graduate. He helps them get into their dream college and takes part in the prestige. He also works with students who are struggling, academic or otherwise. They may need more attention to succeed, but it’s rewarding when they finally do so, or when they reach their “aha” moment; it’s all about seeing what everyone needs to graduate.

There are many things one needs to do to become an academic counselor. Like Mr. Espinoza, you need a master’s degree, usually in education, adding on an extra 2 years to a bachelor’s degree (about 6-7 years of college in total). He explained the needs beyond academics: “You need to be dedicated to helping students succeed.” Social, extroverted individuals may succeed in this field, but there is room for everyone as long as they’re able to relate to the student. They should also take joy in talking to people.

If one was intent on becoming a counselor after considering these factors, Mr. Espinoza would encourage them to think about in what capacity they want to work with people. As mentioned before, there are many forms of counseling, including therapy, social work, and behavioral analysis. Do you want to help people graduate? Maybe you want to find out the causes of mental illnesses? Before committing to a field, there are many such options and questions to consider.

When I asked what his work-life balance looks like, he said “It doesn’t always feel like work.” Being a counselor has its routines, but Mr. Espinoza’s work constitutes a greater part of his life; he does it all because he really likes to.

He doesn’t hate anything about his job in particular, but the technical side of counseling leaves a lot to be desired. There are issues with the logistical side of things, as the technology hasn’t quite caught up yet. It’s taken a lot of time to adjust to multiple systems, a tedious and monotonous process that is worsened by a complicated and primitive system.

Speaking of complications, Mr. Espinoza and his fellow academic counselors have to make special efforts to keep the counseling experience fair for all of their students. The counseling office is a collaborative environment, and the counselors are always together; work is not really individual. Overall, they try to keep everything consistent with their students while creating improvements and adopting new things.

Concluding the interview, I asked him what his favorite thing about being an academic counselor was, and he said one thing; “I love to see student interactions and create opportunities for them.” Mr. Espinoza gets to guide his students through their academic journey while being involved with clubs such as Raíces. Above all, he enjoys the opportunities to talk with and get to know students, whether that be a conversation in the hall or an interview like the one I conducted.