Sisters Eddy and Jefte’s journey from Nicaraguan roots to shaping young minds in Detroit embodies resilience, sacrifice, and an unbreakable bond, proving that love and faith can overcome adversity and inspire hope.

In the heart of Detroit, Eddy and Jefte, two sisters with a remarkable journey, are shaping young minds as passionate teachers at the Academy of Americas. Their story, rooted in the complexities of their Nicaraguan heritage, highlights resilience, sacrifice, and an unbreakable bond.

A Father’s Legacy

Their father was a lawyer in Nicaragua and stood unwaveringly for justice during the civil wars. Despite enduring imprisonment and later being detained as a political prisoner, he remained steadfast in his commitment to advocating for the rights of his community and sharing the Gospel with fellow inmates. His unwavering faith and dedication left an indelible mark on his two daughters.

“One of the things I am most proud of about my dad, even though he is not with us anymore, is the way he left the physical world with his heart intact with God,” Eddy Montes said.

From his escape to Costa Rica during the first civil war to his struggles in California, he instilled in them the values of fortitude, resourcefulness, and unwavering faith in God. Despite financial hardships, he prioritized spiritual and moral education, ensuring that his daughters understood the importance of integrity and compassion. After their parents’ divorce, he began to stray from his faith. However, his later life saw a remarkable resurgence of faith, serving as a poignant testament to redemption and tenacity. Returning to Nicaragua post-divorce, he resumed his fight for the people’s freedom, a journey intertwined with a renewed commitment to his faith. Through his words and actions, he imparted invaluable lessons of perseverance, faith, and compassion, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to guide and inspire Eddy and Jefte in their journey through life.

Overcoming Adversity

Their upbringing was marked by sacrifices and challenges, yet they remained steadfast in their determination to persevere. Their dad took any job that he could, he would sell anything and everything while living in Costa Rica because it was hard for him to get a job as Nicaraguans were looked down upon. When the family moved to California, their dad went into real estate and realized that is a good way to make money. Despite these obstacles, their father’s unwavering dedication to providing for his family instilled in them a sense of perseverance and resolve.

“We were raised with the values to be hardworking and never give up, to sacrifice for others without expecting things in return,” Eddy reflects.

Despite the uncertainties and obstacles they faced, their unwavering commitment to overcoming adversity and pursuing their dreams has been unwavering. Their ability to persevere in the face of hardship is a testament to their strength of character and the enduring legacy of their father’s teachings, inspiring hope and fortitude in those around them.

Forging New Paths

Eddy and Jefte’s journey of forging new paths amidst uncertainty and challenges reflects their courage and determination to create a better future for themselves. Eddy’s decision to move from California to Detroit, despite uncertainties and challenges, exemplifies her courage and determination to carve out a new path for herself. During her college years, Jefte confronted formidable hurdles, particularly in grappling with questions surrounding her identity and navigating through periods of family instability. These challenges were pivotal in shaping her tenacity and determination to overcome adversity, ultimately empowering her to chart a new course in life.

Motivated by a desire to make a difference and honor her father’s legacy, she embarked on a journey into the unknown, guided by an inner conviction to create positive change. She turned to God to ask for guidance. In the face of unfamiliar surroundings and cultural differences, Eddy’s unwavering commitment to her goals propelled her forward, inspiring those around her with her perseverance and determination.

Eddy remembers him saying, “You know Jafet, that’s my middle name, whenever you want something, just ask God. He will deliver it.”

Despite these challenges, she remained steadfast in her pursuit of personal development and higher education to become a teacher. Jefte’s pursuit of a better life was marked by significant obstacles, especially following Eddy’s departure for college, as Eddy had played a significant role in raising her, accentuated by their 10-year age gap. Eventually, Jefte found herself moving in with their aunt and uncle, who took on the responsibility of raising her.

“I’m very grateful with how my life turned out because I have two people who showed me that I can be someone,” she acknowledges, highlighting the profound impact of her aunt and uncle’s unwavering support during her formative years.

During her college years, Jefte embarked on a journey of self-discovery, fostering reconnections with her parents and deepening her bond with her aunt. Living in a cramped space where privacy was scarce, she struggled to find herself amidst the constraints. Additionally, learning about her father’s imprisonment added further complexities to her academic endeavors, making it challenging to focus on her studies. Eventually, overwhelmed by the circumstances, she made the difficult decision to temporarily leave college. Returning to her aunt and uncle’s care, she found solace in her faith and began to unravel the layers of her identity. Recognizing the need to recenter herself amidst the trials, Jefte turned to her faith, finding strength and fortitude in her relationship with God. She eventually resumed her college education. Despite the hardships, her journey ultimately led her to a place of self-assurance and spiritual growth.

Journey to Detroit

The decision to move to Detroit marked a significant turning point for Eddy and Jefte, each driven by their unique motivations and aspirations. For Eddy, the move represented a leap of faith, a departure from the familiar confines of California towards new opportunities in the Motor City. While, for Jefte, the move to Detroit symbolized a transformative opportunity to redefine her trajectory and embrace new possibilities.

Eddy’s husband was a financial advisor in California and after a few of his clients mentioned that they were leaving for Detroit. Intrigued by the prospects, they decided to explore Detroit, ultimately finding themselves drawn to properties just a mile away from downtown. With a keen eye for investment opportunities, they seized the chance to purchase and renovate houses for resale. Moving to Michigan without a job, Eddy began diligently applying while leaning on her faith for guidance.

During renovations on one of their properties, she found herself assisting a worker who spoke only Spanish. Their interaction led to a visit to the worker’s daughter’s school, where fate intervened. Reflecting on the pivotal moment, she shared, “As I was walking on the grounds of the school, I felt like I was going to come out with a job.” Subsequently, a conversation in Spanish between the worker and Eddy caught the attention of the principal, who expressed a need for a bilingual math teacher. This serendipitous encounter seamlessly aligned with Eddy’s skills and aspirations, marking a transformative step in her career journey.

Eddy called her sister to tell her all about Michigan and a job opportunity to work with her at the Academy of the Americas. Jefte came to Detroit to talk to the principal and went on a tour of the school.

“I asked God to see what I should do, especially since I wanted to teach abroad, and I don’t have to compromise with anyone so I could really do anything I want,” she said.

Motivated by her passion for teaching and inspired by the potential for growth, Jefte seized the chance to pursue her career aspirations. With aspirations to teach abroad in the future, she recognized the importance of gaining teaching experience and certification. The Academy of the Americas works with CUAA to help teachers get their teaching certificate, so Jefte decided to further her career aspirations in Detroit.

Working and Going to School Together

Jefte was the one who did the research to find the best university to get a master’s in education at and she found CUAA. She told Eddy about it, and they both decided to enroll into the online master’s education and teacher certification program. Now they teach and attend some of the same classes together.

Jefte teaches 7th grade while Eddy teaches 8th grade, so their schedules don’t align but they do make sure to check in with each other especially if they are feeling frustrated or need help.

“I do have to say working together, I like that. I don’t feel like I am on my own,” Eddy remarked. “Even though we teach different grades and our schedules are a tad different, I don’t feel alone and I know she doesn’t feel alone either.”

As classmates, they find themselves on a shared academic journey, fostering a unique bond rooted in mutual growth and support. Reflecting on their collaboration as classmates, Eddy emphasizes, “Even as classmates we can bounce ideas off each other–I don’t need to second guess when I ask her for advice and that feels good.”

Their shared experiences as classmates not only provide them with a supportive network for academic challenges but also deepen their bond, as Jefte reflects, “Being able to reconnect with her has been amazing–now as adults we can reconnect and deepen it more because she does not have to take care of me anymore.”

Eddy, in turn, acknowledges the deepening of their relationship through their professional collaboration, remarking, “Even as classmates we can bounce ideas off each other…I don’t need to double guess when I ask her for advice and that feels good.” Together, they navigate the challenges of teaching, finding strength and support in their shared dedication to their students and each other.

Their journey serves as a testament to the enduring power of family, faith, and resilience, a narrative that resonates deeply as Nicaragua continues to grapple with its own challenges. Despite the ongoing struggles in their homeland, Eddy and Jefte remain steadfast in their commitment to inspire hope and strength in those around them. “We are finally reaping the benefits that our dad has been praying for us to have,” Eddy said. In a world fraught with challenges, their story stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, love and faith can light the way forward.

Want in?

The Department of Graduate Education delivers relevant, transformative programs designed to empower educators to boldly step forth into their professional calling. We offer flexible, accredited programs taught by individuals who have deep experience and knowledge of issues critical to both Michigan and our country. At Concordia, our class sizes are small, our community is close-knit, and the curriculum challenges you to grow as a person and a professional. Graduates from our programs pursue excellence in the delivery of educational services and lead with integrity. Be part of a tradition that will inspire a lifelong love of learning in your students and yourself.

—This story is written by Keara Chaperon, Social Media Manager for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Concordia University Wisconsin. She may be reached at