Lulu Heras has never told anyone until now, but she keeps a little red lipgloss that her sixth grade teacher, Ms. Rupke, gave to her. The gift was a great kindness in the midst of a difficult situation. Lulu’s never forgotten it.
Teachers like Ms. Rupke are why Lulu can say, “Every teacher I had at MSS has shaped me into the person I am today. Growing up isn’t easy. Each teacher made me feel safe. I always felt welcomed and embraced at school. A really unique feature of Mustard Seed is that teachers help students find their gifts and grow them. My teachers always helped me feel comfortable about seeing things differently from others. Instead of feeling insecure, I learned that not everything is done just one way. I learned to be confident in who I am.”
What else stands out about her Mustard Seed experience? The diversity of the school and its celebrations. Passover. Rosh Hashanah. Las Posadas. And the field trips! Spruce Lake was her all-time best trip ever. But so many others come to mind: the Hudson Hikes, the Buehler Challenger & Science Center, and a trip to Boston with the chorus.
“I strongly believe that no child should be deprived of such an amazing school just because they can’t afford it,” says Lulu, “Supporters of the school are critical to making a Mustard Seed School education a reality for so many.”
After graduating eighth grade, Lulu attended County Prep where students take an elective along with the core curriculum. She chose Medical Science to help her explore whether nursing might be a good career path for her. She joined the Health Occupations Students of America and had an internship at Jersey City Medical Center. She learned about imaging technology like MRIs. And spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the most impactful and memorable part of the internship.
Now a college student at New Jersey City University, Lulu’s studying marketing. She enjoys writing and wants to use her skills to make a difference to her generation and generations to come. Hoping for a career in advertising, she thinks about ways to use media to educate others about social issues. To promote positive messages.
When she’s not studying, you’ll find Lulu at the gym working out or kickboxing. Or in nature hiking or just enjoying the outdoors. She loves to visit new places, especially national parks.
Teacher Jodi Miller remembers Lulu very well. “If I had to come up with descriptions of her, I would say confident. Outgoing. Capable. Brave.”
And she tells this story:
“A year or two ago, on a very cold day, I went into Dunkin’ Donuts on Washington Street. I had no idea that Lulu worked behind the counter but there she was, and since she did not notice me for quite a while, I had an opportunity to observe her interact with a street person. He asked her for a coffee and she said yes without hesitation, preparing it to his specifications. After handing it over to him with a smile, she reached into her pocket and took out her own money to pay for it. Afterward, when it was my turn, she greeted me warmly. I commented on her gift of coffee to the man. She gave me an embarrassed smile and said, ‘It’s nothing.’
So to that list of adjectives, I have to add quite a few more. Honest. Generous. Humble. Tender. She warmed my heart.”