I was the first in my family to graduate high school with honors, the first to earn my bachelor’s degree, and the first to obtain my master’s. I’m proud of these accomplishments. I’ve been involved in education for over 10 years, working with students with an upbringing similar to my own.
Like me, many of them would start out with limited goals. They didn’t look outside of our community. They didn’t consider going to college outside our state, if they considered college at all. They didn’t see themselves as leaders. They thought they would do what others did: get a job immediately after high school, have children and continue the cycle.
I knew that children needed an adult challenging them to meet new goals and supporting them in understanding the vast opportunities that they had available to them. I wanted to be the one to break that cycle. I chose education as my career path, because I knew this was where I could make a difference.
As their teacher, I pushed my students to challenge themselves. I wanted them to reach their full potential and realize the options they had. Cam thought of himself as an athlete. He was quiet in class, stronger in math and not fond of writing.
I challenged Cam to realize that he was a high-achieving student. Together, we recognized that the work he was doing was challenging, and he learned not to be afraid of the challenge. He began to use strategies I used with him, to teach his peers how to solve multi-step math problems. Cam became as confident in the classroom as he was on the field.
I often talked about my college courses with my students when I was studying for my master’s degree. I wanted them to understand the process, the work and the possibilities. I wanted to earn that higher degree so that I could continue to thrive in education as a young, Hispanic, female leader.
My initial goal was to become a school principal. I understood the role of a building leader and how valuable a good principal was to the teachers and students within that building. I envisioned myself working and leading within a school, but also thought about the possibility of leading at the district level.
The more I achieved, the more my goals expanded. I was no longer setting minimal goals and I wanted the children I taught to see someone who grew up like them and who looked like them making a difference at a higher level. I wanted them to envision themselves in those roles.
I did not become a building principal. I still get to work in education, I still get to support teachers and students, and I still get to lead great work. I do this as New Mexico’s director of policy for Teach Plus.
I collaborate with educators and stand up in Santa Fe on behalf of amazing teachers. I support Teach Plus Fellows in their work as we fight for a high-quality, equitable education for all our students.
I am the leader and an example for what many children in my community can become.