Above: Vita Franjul addressed the Class of 2019 as the student commencement speaker.
Recent graduate Vita Franjul ’19 left an indelible impression as a student leader at Lesley, and now she’s focused on helping other young people develop her same love for education as she becomes a classroom teacher.
Her commitment to schooling was apparent throughout her college career, during which she expertly balanced her classes, homework, a nannying job and multiple positions in various student clubs and organizations.
“I knew that I only had four years and I wanted to make the most of it,” reflects Franjul.
Among her many accomplishments, Franjul co-founded the inaugural Bridge the Gap diversity student-run conference, represented the Class of 2019 as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences student commencement speaker and served as Undergraduate Student Government (USG) finance chairperson.
Now, she’s landed her dream job in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) as a first-grade teacher with her own classroom this fall – returning to the same school system where it all began.
Classroom connections come full-circle
As she looks back on four years at Lesley as an elementary education major, she also reflects on her roots. She moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 2 and has lived in Boston ever since.
“I loved growing up in the city,” she says. “I got to experience a lot of diversity and it gave me a unique perspective that I really appreciated.”
Though she’s called Boston home for most of her life, her Dominican roots run deep. She participated in Lesley’s first-ever Undocumented and Students of Color Graduation on May 11 and her family enthusiastically waved the Dominican flag as Franjul delivered her speech at Lesley’s Commencement on May 18.
“My family is still very much of that culture. We’re very proud to be Dominican, playing dominos with the Dominican flag on them, the food, the strong family connections – my mom is one of 10 – and we see family every day. It’s awesome,” Franjul says.
As a graduate of BPS, Franjul attributes her love and passion for education to her time there.
“Fostering my love for school – that’s where it happened,” Franjul explains. “And now I want to give back and be the same kind of role model for my students.”
Franjul attended the Josiah Quincy School through sixth grade and went on to graduate from Boston Latin Academy in 2015. As a Lesley student, she interned at the Graham and Parks School in Cambridge and the Henderson Inclusion School in Boston. After completing her senior practicum at the Eliot School in Boston’s North End, she was offered a full-time position there for the fall of 2019. She was also accepted into a master's program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She made the decision to take the job.
“I’m really excited about having my own classroom,” she says. “I didn’t know it was even possible. It’s a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to work for BPS and give back to the community so this is really cycling back to my own experience and where I came to love school.”
Leaving a Lesley legacy
Franjul received multiple awards for her leadership and involvement in student life, including the USG Hero Award for her service on Undergraduate Student Government, the Undergraduate Student Impact Award, which she received at the 2019 Unity Gala, and the Margaret McKenna Leadership in Action Award.
The Bridge the Gap conference, which she co-founded along with Rianne Elsadig ’19, Jeannine Hernandez ’19, Jocelyn Martinez ’20 and Alexa Madrid ’19, also received the Program of the Year Award at the Student Leadership Banquet hosted by the Office of Student Life and Academic Development. Franjul cites the student-run diversity conference as a standout experience for her.
“Being able to see our hard work come to life and creating a sustainable plan to keep it going in the future – we just put so much into it,” she recalled. “I spoke to people every day, trying to convince them of why it was so important to put this on here at Lesley.”
A teacher prepares
As the summer gets underway, Franjul is excited to look through curriculum and begin building her very own classroom, narrowing in on a lifelong passion that’s about to become her career.
“For the last 16 years of my life, I’ve been juggling so many things,” she said. “Right now, I only have this one thing to focus on – my first year of teaching – and the first year is always the hardest one.”
An extraordinary undergraduate career now behind her, Franjul is hoping to taking some time off before her school preparations begin, though she has a feeling that she won’t stay idle for long.
“I’m looking forward to taking a step back, trying to take a little break,” said Franjul. “I’m sure I’ll find other things to keep myself busy, though, because that’s just the norm for me.”
If her time at Lesley is any indication, that sounds about right.