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Lola Bonfield found a job working as an office clerk at Willenberg Special Education Center in San Pedro.

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Three years after the end of World War II, they headed to the golden state of California hoping to improve their lives. But one thing was certain, their formal education was over.“Although I am half Hispanic with grandparents that migrated from Michoacan,” Bonillo explains, “I was told by some students that I didn’t ‘look it, fit it.’” First, girls teased and taunted. Early on, she felt so bad for the children who would never walk, read or write that she came home crying.But as she traveled through high school, things grew violent. She saw ignorant parents of able-bodied children keep their children away from kids with Down syndrome, afraid they might “catch” something. But then she told herself, “If I keep being sad, I won’t be able to make a difference.” She also found fuel in the students.At Special Olympics, she witnessed kids who “were powered by their strengths and never let their disabilities define their abilities.” To help the children, she focused on speech therapy “to open the door to communication.” In her senior year, she decided to do something no one in her family had ever done. Her dream: “To teach these kids to talk.” But dreams of college proved tough to realize.“Nobody knew how to fill out college applications,” Bonillo remembers, not even high school counselors.She told Alisha how her own teenage son was recently released from the hospital after his second suicide attempt in five months. Yes, I believe God did put you here for me,” Alisha replied.

Alisha said she’s a Christian and has trusted God to protect her son.

When Lola’s sister mentioned college, Dad said being a wife and mother should be her only path, “Your job is to stay with the children.” “My dad was very old-fashioned,” Bonfield recalls. We couldn’t go to the prom.” Soon, she married Dave Bonfield, a marine clerk in the Long Beach-Los Angeles harbor.

The couple moved to Carson where they raised a son and three daughters and life centered around the docks and the world of longshoremen.

In some ways, this commencement at Concordia marks new beginnings for both.

In a few months, the son will start a music master’s degree where he also plans on earning a teaching credential.

She’s also asked Him to make her the godly mother she needs to be so she can have a positive influence on him.