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Profesora reveals a more personal side

After immigrating to the US, Spanish teacher makes her home in Central Valley

Spanish teacher Marianela Aguilar greets her students with “¡Hola, Chicos! ¡Hoy es Viernes!” (translating to “Hey, guys! It’s Friday!”). Students expect the phrase followed by an enthusiastic hula twirl the moment they’re seated in Aguilar’s class on Fridays. Many students only see Aguilar in her colorful classroom teaching, but might not expect her to be tenderly tending succulents in her home garden. 

Juggling two jobs, Aguilar teaches Spanish I, II, and III at FCS and additional Spanish classes at Fresno Pacific University. She is more than just a lively woman loved by her students. From where she was born and raised, to her fun quirks, Aguilar has many nuances her students don’t know. 

Marianela Aguilar visiting her home in Costa Rica seven years ago. (Marianela Aguilar)

Aguilar was born and raised in Costa Rica until the age of 17. Born in the church her dad pastored in San José, Costa Rica, Aguilar’s family then moved to a province called San Ramón. They moved once again to San Isidro, where she stayed until she moved to the U.S. Aguilar touches on what she misses most about her home country. 

“I miss the food, my friends, and the culture and atmosphere that surrounded me there,“ Aguilar said. “What I miss most though, is my dad’s side of the family, that we were very close with and still live there in Costa Rica.” 

Aguilar moved to America with her pregnant aunt at the young age of 17. Aguilar’s family made the move to join her only seven months later. 

Without knowing how to speak English, Aguilar faced many challenges that came with the immigration to the U.S. Aguilar describes what it felt like being a new immigrant.

“It was very difficult adapting to a new country and its culture for me, along with trying to find a job in America when I couldn’t speak English at the time,” Aguilar said. “The worst part was being away from my family, and finding out my grandfather from Costa Rica passed away a few days after I had left.” 

As Aguilar adjusted to an American lifestyle, she chose to hold onto her roots. Aguilar stayed true to her strong faith. Aguilar believes that God had a plan for her that was seen through throughout her move to America. 

Marianela Aguilar with her husband Jesús and their daughter Nisha. (Marianela Aguilar)

At 19, Aguilar met and married her husband Jesús Aguilar. Jesús comes from a large family with 13 siblings in total. Jesús came to Aguilar’s church after his brothers told him that pretty Costa Rician girls attended there, and that’s when the two met and connected. They have now been married for 24 years, and have a daughter, Nisha Aguilar.

Aguilar and her husband adopted their daughter in 2004. She is now 24, and lives currently in Stockton, continuing her education as a music teacher. Aguilar also considers her dog Oreo to be one of her kids.

Aguilar, not being allowed pets at home growing up, treasures her dog Oreo for going on seven years. Oreo is a white and brown Shih Tzu who became part of Aguilar’s family at three weeks old. Aguilar’s parents have learned to love dogs through the way Aguilar playfully talks to him. They now treat Oreo as one of their grandchildren.  

With her parents always supporting her, Aguilar had wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. As a Spanish teacher, students in her classes call her Profesora (female teacher). Aguilar also holds a job at Fresno Pacific University, which she has held going on 7 years. Aguilar teaches Spanish classes at FPU ranging from beginners to advanced level classes. Aguilar discusses the struggles of holding more than one teaching position. 

Marianela Aguilar’s dog Oreo. (Marianela Aguilar)

“Being a teacher in two different positions is very time consuming,” Aguilar said.  “I had to learn to prioritize time for my family, because I can get carried away with my passion for work.” 

Aguilar’s week schedule consists of working Monday-Friday at FCS and in the evenings FPU. After a long day of teaching, Aguilar then goes home to her husband, and baby dog Oreo. 

On Tuesdays evenings and Sunday mornings, Aguilar leads a ladies group within her church, Apostolic Church of Fresno. She is the designated treasurer and coordinator for the group’s various activities. Aguilar describes what being part of that group has done for her Faith.

“Growing powerful relationships through the Lord with the ladies in my group has helped me to evangelize, just like we are commanded by God to do,” Aguilar said.

Cherishing her weekends, Aguilar uses her free days to sleep in and stay active within her church. Once a month, Aguilar dedicates a weekend to go up to Ontario, California to visit her parents and other family members that reside there.

Aguilar also uses her spare time to invest in her hobbies such as planting succulents, shopping at Macys, and eating her husband’s delicious barbeque. Aguilar’s favorite dishes her husband that he either cooks or barbeques are Steak, barbeque ribs, and her favorite, his homemade shrimp and chicken alfredo pasta.

Marianela Aguilar’s gazebo filled with varieties of succulents. (Marianela Aguilar)

If you venture into Aguilar’s backyard, you might find her talking to her succulents… yes she talks to her plants. Her collection is vibrant and engulfs her gazebo; consisting of everything from Dudleyas to Hoya’s with heart-shaped leaves. She has planted and tended them going back seven years when she bought the home she currently resides in. Aguilar expands on why plants bring her tranquility.

“I find beauty within the process of planting,” Aguilar said. “It’s like therapy for me.”                      

Although she comes from a line of strong cooking mothers, Aguliar doesn’t enjoy cooking in the slightest. She feels there is no need for her to cook, as her husband is an excellent cook, and he enjoys doing it.

A fun fact about Aguilar is that she cannot tolerate spicy foods. Ever since she was young, everything Aguilar consumes has to be under a mild spice level for her to be able to enjoy what she’s eating.     

“I am most passionate about life, my Faith, my family, the love I hold for my students, my career, and everything or anything else the Lord calls me to,” Aguilar said.   

Do you have a favorite Spanish class memory? Leave a comment below.

To read more from The Feather go to Editorial: Black History still matters or Ice baths, cold showers, and cryotherapy provide quick fix to sore athletes.

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About the Contributors
Sanjay Stephen
Sanjay Stephen, Journalist
First year Feather journalist, Sanjay Stephen is a hard worker who expresses himself through creativity and art. He pushes himself to try new things, like running hurdles for the Track & Field team and exploring the roots of other cultures. His hobby is coordinating events for his friends and community. Stephen's passion is the area of Arts and Entertainment, where he hopes to expand The Feather coverage. 
Mallory Friesen
Mallory Friesen, Photo Editor
Mallory Friesen returns to The Feather for her second year as a photojournalist hoping to improve her skills. As a ‘lifer’ at Fresno Christian, you can find her on the soccer field or cheer mat. Friesen hopes to attend college and continue her creativity by traveling the world and using her photography skills. 
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Comments (4)

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  • B

    Braxton BayMar 2, 2024 at 9:20 pm


  • M

    Marianela AguilarFeb 28, 2024 at 10:26 pm

    Sanjay, please accept my deepest gratitude for all the effort you’ve put into this article. I saw you working very hard and I am very proud of you!
    Profesora Aguilar

  • C

    CherylFeb 27, 2024 at 7:10 pm

    Sounds like a lovely well-rounded person! Nicely written 🙂

  • T

    TheronFeb 23, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    The best article by far Prefessora is the goat.