Sibling role models inspire elementary students

Police officer speaks at former primary school where sister teaches


For Career Week at South Country Elementary Schools in Bellport, students met with community leaders and also enjoyed Spirit Week revolving around careers and colleges.

A special visitor, who himself attended Brookhaven Elementary, was Officer Alex Vargas of the Suffolk County Police Department, who is also a title-holder boxer, ranked No. 14 in the world.

Sister and teacher, Daniela, helped coordinate the visit.

“Our school counselor reached out hoping to find someone to come in to present to the kids, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring in my brother! Not only has he created a name for himself and has been so successful in his life thus far; he also went to this school district, and it is always important to give back,” said Daniela.

“As a teacher, my goal isn’t just to educate the youth, but to also shape them into the best selves that they can be and to get them ready for their futures! Bringing in community leaders to help children is so important because it shows them that they, too, can be successful and can do whatever they put their minds to. I know I am his sister, but I believe that my brother is a perfect example of a role model,” said Daniela.

As an ENL (English as a New Language) teacher, a career Vargas actually studied for in his undergrad, Daniela said her objective was to teach students the English language with the purpose to show students “that they, too, can do anything they want in their life and although there may be bumps in their journey, anything is possible.”

As Vargas is bilingual and Hispanic, students were able to connect with him and envision themselves achieving goals.

“To see their faces light up and say, ‘Me too, me too!’ when he told them that he spoke both English and Spanish truly warmed my heart. I wanted to show them that being bilingual, trilingual, etc., is an asset and not something they should be ashamed of—it is something to be proud of,” said Daniela.

“It feels great to be a role model as an officer and an athlete. I never realized the impact I had on these kids until recently. I remember being that little kid walking those same hallways and listening to the speakers I looked up to. I still remember to this day things they told me, and I hope to have that same impact on these kids, especially when they’re from my hometown,” said Vargas.

Parents Michael and Sandra beamed with pride at the duo of role models their son and daughter have become for other Bellport children.

“I am beyond proud that my children have chosen professions that give back to the community. I am a big believer in paying things forward, and I think that their professions do that over and over again. They have chosen professions that complement their personalities in allowing them to do what comes naturally to each one, respectively,” said Sandra.

Father, Michael, echoed his wife and said, “Always wanted my kids to do something positive in their careers.”

Wanting both of his children to be teachers, both Alex and Daniela received their teaching degrees from Cortland University.

“But police officer was his first choice, so he put it on hold to pursue his dream in professional boxing until he finally got the call for Suffolk County PD. He’s loving his job and I’m so happy for him. My daughter actually thought about law enforcement, but she decided she loved working with the kids. She, too, loves her job. Having two kids working with the community is a beautiful thing. Can’t be prouder of them,” said Michael.


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