Have you ever wondered what your teachers were like in high school? In each faculty profile, we take a trip back to the past and explore what teachers were like ‘When They Were Us’ (WTWU).
Grading long essays and teaching students how to analyze literature are some of the daily activities that make up Mrs. Raquel Bolaños’ job as a teacher. However, before being an AP Language and Composition teacher, Mrs. Bolaños was a student just like us.
While both her parents came to the U.S. from Cuba, Mrs. Bolaños was born and raised here in Plantation, Fla. and attended South Plantation High school. Mrs. Bolaños described herself as a good student who took all honors and AP classes and was focused on school. “I remember being very systematic,” she said. “I tried to go through high school as if everything in my day was a checklist, and I was just trying to complete one thing at a time, and then move on to the next.”
Mrs. Bolaños feels she was like this partially because of her strict parents who kept school as her priority, and partially because she was motivated for her life further down the road. Whatever the reason was, “My-sort-of perfectionist personality made me a great student,” she said.
(Photo submitted by Mrs. Raquel Bolaños)
Mrs. Bolaños was involved in two clubs, her favorite being Caring for Kids and Critters where they would do community service for endangered animals and underprivileged kids. Mrs. Bolaños also started her own club called The Salsa Club, where students would get together and put on performances for group homes and elderly centers.
One of her favorite hobbies growing up was dancing. In addition to creating The Salsa Club, she regularly attended salsa classes a few times a week. Even though dancing was purely for her enjoyment, taking all those classes paid off.
“I stayed in touch with some of the kids I used to dance with at my salsa classes, and one day I get a call from my friend who was a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, saying that she needed more dancers for a pregame performance at the [Miami] Super Bowl,” Mrs. Bolaños said. Mrs. Bolaños ended up dancing in the pregame show at Super Bowl XLIV.
Another passion she had when she was younger was working out and CrossFit. Mrs. Bolaños traveled multiple times with members of her family to participate in races and competitions like the Spartan and Tough Mudders. “I ran two Tough Mudders with some of my family in Beaver Creek, Colorado and then one more down here,” she said. While Mrs. Bolaños loves working out and used to compete, “That all ended when I became old and had kids,” she said jokingly.
When considering colleges, Mrs. Bolaños could have chosen almost any school in Florida. “I was offered a full scholarship from every public university in Florida, but that didn’t include room and board so I decided to stay local and attend FIU,” she said. Not knowing what she wanted from the future, Mrs. Bolaños went through her first two years of undergrad with no clue of the path she would take.
“I ended up majoring in Spanish and fell in love with analyzing Spanish poetry,” she said. “My sister then posed the idea of becoming an English major and I had my doubts, but I knew I wanted to go to graduate school already so that’s what I decided to do.”
She ended up getting her first job teaching at FAU as a graduate teaching assistant. Here she really fell in love with teaching and began her journey that would lead her to teaching at Heritage today.