Nadia Lopez on Empowerment Never underestimate your potential.

Right now, principal Nadia Lopez is one of the most famous educators in America. Earlier this year, she almost quit her job.

Lopez founded Mott Hall Bridges Academy in 2010, hoping to provide educational stability to the students of Brownsville, Brooklyn – the poorest neighborhood in New York City. Four years later, she felt her work wasn’t having enough of an impact and was considering leaving the school.

Then Humans of New York posted a picture of a student who spoke fondly of his school principal. He called her the biggest influence in his life.

This principal was Nadia Lopez and the photo went viral, shared over 145,000 times on Facebook.

In an interview with Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton, Lopez discussed the importance of empowerment:

“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff.

Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome.

When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”

Never underestimate your potential to influence change. Lopez’s story makes it clear how the empowerment of a single person can affect the lives of many.

Start by finding your Nadia Lopez. Find that mentor who brings out the best in you; who sees your utmost potential, even when you fail to do so. And when you achieve greatness, never forget who got you there.

Learn More:
Why Principals Matter.


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