The death of Jaime Escalante is in the news today. Escalante was the calculus teacher portrayed in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver who had his students in a low-income, East Los Angeles school passing the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Listening to a remembrance today on NPR’s Morning Edition, I heard the word ganas emphasized:

And to make it, Escalante often said, you need ganas, Spanish for desire and drive. Ganas was Escalante’s battle cry — not just in motivating his students, but every time he chided apathetic administrators and jaded teachers.

I wasn’t familiar with the word, so I Googled it. Ganas is related to the English word “gain.” As Spanish-Only.com explains, it is “the you-form of the verb ganar (to earn / to win)” but it also has a added sense of wanting to do something — as mentioned above, desire and drive.

So, “you want to gain” or “you want to earn” or “you want to win.”

Even in dying, Jaime Escalante has taught me something.