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UW Ph.D. Student Awarded Fellowship to Develop Latino School Leaders

June 20, 2022
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Victoria Flores

A University of Wyoming Ph.D. student in the curriculum and instruction program’s literacy education concentration recently was selected for a fellowship from the Latino Educator and Administrator Development (LEAD) program.

Victoria Flores, of El Paso, Texas, will be a part of the third cohort for the program that seeks to invite, advance and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools through a summer conference and yearlong formation program.

The program was created by the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame and the National Catholic Educational Association to increase the number of Latino school leaders in the education system.

Latino children are one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. education population, but there is often a lack of Latino leadership in schools. The LEAD program emphasizes that Latino representation is essential in the classroom and that, when a student and teacher share the same identity, it can lead to improved student outcomes.

“When Latinx educators assume leadership roles within schools, it sends the message to Latinx families saying ‘You are welcome here. Your culture, identity and voice are represented,’” Flores says. “Furthermore, having Latinx school leaders demonstrates to Latinx students that they, too, have access to careers in academia. Latinx leaders serving as role models can empower students to enact agency in their own learning and academic success.”

The fellowship aims to shape transformative Latino leaders by discovering participants’ personal leadership trajectory and helping form leadership qualities rooted in Latino culture. The goals of the framework include inspiring LEAD Fellows to embrace, educate and empower themselves as leaders and the future generation of Latino students.

“As a student who has experienced marginalization because of a lack of representation, I feel called to be an advocate for those who continue to have similar experiences in schools,” Flores says. “My current doctoral work looks at a language and culture immersion program at an Arapaho school on the Wind River Reservation. The skills and abilities I gain through the LEAD program will facilitate how I research Arapaho students’ learning of language and culture.”

The LEAD program provides educators with a small learning community that meets monthly via Zoom. The community is guided by a LEAD mentor to inspire thoughtful and informative conversations on a variety of topics, including embracing one’s destiny and leading with charity.

“My goal is to complete my Ph.D. and become a professor,” Flores says. “I’ve come to learn how professors serve in a crucial leadership role for pre-service teachers. If we are going to invest in the future of Latinx students, Latinx educators and leaders must be cultivated presently as well as in future generations.”

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