Author Dishes Out a Recipe for Success

Cyndi Kline
El Vquero Staff Writer

The same is true for life as for a good pot of beans; you need experience and a taste for richness.
So said author Yolanda Nava in a March 28 lecture before an audience of 100, part of the Women’s History Month series at Kreider Hall.

Spiritual ingredients are high in Nava’s recipe for success. Nava, a Hispanic native of Los Angeles in her 50s, who still lives in Southern California, attributed prayer, faith in a creator and meditation as keys to solving life’s problems. Also on Nava’s “menu” is developing quality of character and being joyous.
Nava said that everything she accomplished has come out of what she calls her “dream world.”

“I always dreamed of hosting a TV show, controlling a program, and now it’s in the works,” she said. “I also feel I am finally grown up because I pursued and achieved my dream of writing,” she said.

Nava won the 2001 Best Self-Help Book Award from the Latino Literary Hall of Fame for “It’s All in the Frijoles,” which outlines steps to successful living and the meaning of life.

While teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Nava became frustrated by students’ high dropout rate. Her frustration was a turning point for her – and she became involved in political activism.
Nava recently received a literary achievement award by California Center for Teaching Careers (CalTeach), an information and referral service for individuals considering or pursuing teaching careers.

Nava recalled the days when women did not have a voice. In 1973, she was the director of Neighborhood Youth Corps, a federal program in Los Angeles that offered Hispanic women on welfare the opportunity to get an education, in the hopes of ensuring a better life for them and their children. She had some heart-rending encounters. Once, a 14-year-old girl supporting an infant, the result of sexual abuse, came to her for help. Now, the girl is supporting herself instead of living on welfare. “She forgave the one by whom she had been hurt and got on with her life,” Nava said.

“She is probably one of the most powerful women I have ever known personally, and is a woman who makes history,” said GCC counselor Lola Taylor who attended the lecture. “I’m glad to have had the opportunity to bring her here. She spoke directly to the needs of the students.”

“Tremendous challenges can be overcome,” Nava said. “If you get knocked in the head, or tragedy comes, you can’t buckle. Everyone who comes to you is a lesson, even mean people. Bless the nasty people. You’re learning. You must move.

“We are each special… complete, whole. We need to discover our talents, develop them and give back to the world what God has given us,” she said.

Nava urged her listeners to “paint if you are an artist. Write if you are a writer.”

Nava also reminded students not to forget the value of an education as a good one will help anybody earn a good livelihood. However, she warned against making money a priority over everything else.

That, she said, like education, is only as good as its use.