Monica Tellez de Arste
M.Ed. in Bilingual Bicultural Education, 2009
I grew up in the border town of Laredo, Texas where being bilingual didn’t seem like anything special. However, after studying under the direction of Dr. George Blanco and Dr. Haydeé Rodríguez in UT Austin’s bilingual cohort, I now understand how special being bilingual truly is. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Learning and Development in 2000. Through my work in the bilingual cohort, I realized just how important my cultural background is and how it led me to where I was. It was then that I discovered my real passion for bilingual education and I knew I would dedicate myself to helping others value language and cultural backgrounds.
Why UT, Why Bilingual/Bicultural Education?
When I found out about the opportunity to be a part of Proyecto Maestría, it was a no-brainer. From my previous experience, I knew that it was something I had to be involved in to continue my growth as a professional and a true believer in bilingual education. When I was accepted into the program in 2008, I was thrilled to be returning to UT Austin for the second phase of my higher education. I received my Master’s degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Education in August 2009. My graduate work gave me a new set of skills and knowledge to go back into the classroom and be a better teacher and advocate for my students and their families. I also found that my role as a leader came more naturally in my school community and I felt more valued. My small cohort of nine women made me feel connected to other educators with similar ideas and I continue to be a part of this amazing group of bilingual colleagues today. As a result, I feel empowered.
Life After UT
I have been an integral part of developing the Dual Language community at Ridgetop Elementary, I have worked there for 13 years now. I continue to serve as the Lead Mentor for novice teachers on my campus, supporting them as a part of AISD’s new teacher induction program, a role I have had for 10 years. I also continue to have strong ties with Dr. Haydeé Rodríguez and the UT Austin Bilingual cohort as a cooperating teacher. I have hosted over 15 student interns and apprentices and in 2012, I was awarded the Zarrow Outstanding Teacher Award in recognition of these efforts. I thoroughly enjoy working with student teachers as they push my thinking as much as I do theirs. Also, providing placements for interns and apprentices is my way of giving back to UT Austin and a pleasant yet challenging form of continuing professional development.
Advice for Current Students
If you think it, you can do it. Stay focused, be organized, set goals, and work hard now to achieve your dreams. Anything is possible when your head and heart are in the right place. UT Austin will forever hold a special place in my heart and I owe them big for what’s in my head.