51.3 F

Daughter of miner who survived the mining disaster in Chile to study at UNR



block_n-1936256-2969602Professor Emma Sepulveda has mentored hundreds of students during her academic career at UNR, but she never thought that she would have the opportunity to mentor a Chilean miner’s daughter. Her name was Scarlette Sepulveda (no relation), and her dream was to go back to school one day, get a college degree, and learn to speak English. Professor Sepulveda promised Scarlette that she would try to help her in any way she could.

Professor Sepulveda was working on her sabbatical project when she heard the news about the mining accident in Chile. She traveled to the Atacama Desert to interview the women who were fighting to find and rescue their men. She was at the camp every day for over a month and decided to write a book about the accident, the search for the miners and the role of the women in the rescue efforts.

During her time in the camp, Dr. Sepulveda met a young woman named Scarlette who had abandoned her studies to come to the camp with her mother. Dr. Sepulveda and Scarlette quickly developed a bond that would change Scarlette’s future forever. During those long conversations in the mining camp, in the middle of the Chilean desert, she knew that she needed to help Scarlette not only to learn English but also to pursue her college degree one day.

After finishing her book, which has been published in Chile and Spain and is dedicated to Scarlette and the other women of the camp, Dr. Sepulveda went back to Chile for presentations and book signings. During that trip she spent time with Scarlette talking about the possibility of her coming to UNR to study English for one semester.

Back in Reno, Professor Sepulveda contacted Susan Valencia, director of the Intensive English Program at UNR, and with her help she was able to file an application for Scarlette and obtain a discount on the program’s tuition. The Rotary Club of Reno offered to provide a generous scholarship, individual members of that downtown club also offered to help and the Latino Research Center added the extra funding needed.

Professor Sepulveda offered Scarlette her home while she attends UNR. Little by little the dream became a reality, and Scarlette Sepulveda, who a year ago had to drop out of school and was living in a mining camp, fearing for her father’s life, took a plane from Santiago, Chile, and landed on Monday in Reno to follow one of her dreams: studying English. She is enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Intensive English Program for the Fall semester.

This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.