Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, 1998
My time at UT Austin was particularly significant for me. I developed strong relationships with professors who remain mentors and friends to this day. Although the work was challenging, faculty such as Drs Michael Guerrero and Richard Valencia consistently supported my efforts. As expected, Dr. Blanco was phenomenal in his approach to mentoring his students through the process; an approach I use with my own graduate students. The collegiality I experienced at UT also helped me forge strong bonds with colleagues that impact my work and my research today. I developed close friendships with classmates who continue to be part of my life, both professionally and personally.
When deciding on a program for my doctoral work I reviewed several universities in Texas. Although there were several programs in Multilingual Education, as an alumnus of UT I was partial to returning to Austin. At that time Dr. George Blanco was a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Dr. Blanco had a strong reputation in the Bilingual Education community for his work with bilingual children. As a former elementary bilingual teacher I was interested in pursuing a doctoral degree to augment my practical experience within the classroom and my Master’s work. I chose to attend UT Austin to continue my graduate work in bilingual education and to learn from faculty such as Dr. Blanco. I used this experience to begin my work in the Professoriate in 1999 at The University of Texas at Brownsville.
Life After UT
My education at UT Austin helped me understand how the variety of bilingual programs, individual teacher beliefs, and leadership characteristics all lead to qualitatively distinctive experiences for children. Therefore, I study the social and political processes that influence the choice of program, the kinds of instruction that are available to children, and the professional development needs of dual language teachers. I am particularly interested in the ways native language use is encouraged or discouraged by language policies and their interpretation.
My success in the field of bilingual education can be attributed to the foundation in research and teaching I received at UT-Austin. I am a former President of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, have numerous publications in the area of dual language education, and have facilitated professional development for multiple levels of educators.
Currently I am an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio where I also serve as the Assistant Department Chair for Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching. My research interests rest largely in three inter-related areas: the academic success of young Latino children in dual language classrooms, language policy, and Latina scholars in academia. I have been especially interested in forms of teaching that promote native language development and its correlation to second-language acquisition. I have focused on teaching practices in early childhood classrooms and the effect of quality schooling on language minority children in bilingual programs.
Advice for Students
My advice for someone considering graduate work at UT Austin is to “go for it”! Use your time wisely, read as much as you can, attend conferences, and participate in class discussions. Finally, take advantage of faculty mentoring. They will support you as you navigate through the process and will eventually become colleagues in your field of study.