Posted on December 11, 2020 by

Fall-Graduation-2020-Amanda_Garner.png Amanda Garner-Maskill

Doctoral Student in Educational Leadership
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Why did you choose UTSA?

I chose UTSA because of its relationship with my district. I had a great experience in the ELPS masters program and wanted to continue my learning in the doctoral program.

How has the ELPS Doctoral program prepared you for the next chapter of your life/employment/etc.?

The program has better prepared me to be a culturally responsive school administrator.

What advice do you have for someone entering the ELPS doctoral program?

When you are entering the program you will need the support of your family, especially if you have children. I recommend your spouse attending the orientation session that is specially designed for them. Be sure to have an open mind and be willing to grow, even when it is sometimes emotional.

Fall-Graduation-2020-7.png Vicki Lynton

Doctoral Student in Culture, Literacy, and Language
Department of Bicultural Bilingual Studies

What was your favorite experience/memory within the CLL program? 

Some of my favorite experiences in the program included collaborating on research projects with professors and peers. A favorite memory was attending a conference and presenting the findings of a research collaboration with my lead professor. The day before our presentation, my peers and I practiced and gave each other feedback. Practicing together was helpful and we had a great time. Experiences, like this one, helped me develop important skills and build meaningful relationships with my CLL peers.

How has the CLL program prepared you for your next chapter of your life/employment/etc.?  

The  Ph.D. Program in Culture, Literacy, and Language  prepared me to conduct research which centers on educational equity, and it has improved my teaching practice. I am now better able to design curriculum reflective of a more inclusive classroom environment.   

What advice do you have for someone entering the CLL program?

I encourage new students to seek out the supplemental support offered through various UTSA departments. Some examples I found valuable included a) access to cutting-edge hardware and software offered through the COEHD Learning Labs; b) graduate-level writing support and writing power hours offered through the UTSA Writing Center; and c) dissertation writing camps offered through the Graduate School.  

Fall-Graduation-2020-Judith-Orsini.png Judith Orsini Rodríguez

M.A. Student/Teacher Candidate in Bicultural Bilingual Education Department of Bicultural
Bilingual Studies

Why did you choose UTSA? 

In 2016, I welcomed the determination to relocate to San Antonio, Texas, looking for broader opportunities to raise the living positions I encountered in my homeland due to its delicate socio-economic circumstances. As a former special education teacher, I came determined to achieve a teaching certificate in the state of Texas, unimagining that it would extend to a way more formidable quest.

Why did you choose BBL and the Teacher Educator program?

My love for the field of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies began with my experience as a mother exploring how my two boys could advance their English language abilities while supporting their native language development. I grew as an instant advocate for dual language education after witnessing the positive impact of learning two languages simultaneously and acknowledging the beauty of cultural diversity's richness. It provided the occasion to overcome common transitional challenges and developed meaningful relationships with peers from similar circumstances. Additionally, we encountered teachers with culturally responsive and comprehensive teaching approaches that helped build a positive attitude toward the learning experience.

As I explored diverse Educator Preparation Programs, The Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies and UTSA Teacher Educator Program stood out among all. Firstly, the University of Texas at San Antonio's mission to advance knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement, and public service ideally aligned with my professional values and ethics. Nevertheless, engaging in a master's degree program offered the exceptional possibility to acquire critical knowledge regards the latest research-based teaching methods and sociocultural perspective for language development.

What was your favorite experience/memory within the  BBL and  Teacher Educator  program?

I hold so many memories that have shaped my way of perceiving life itself! I believe my participation as a teacher candidate and a student-teacher are the most precious memories of my time in the program. I had the opportunity to combine language learning theories with their classroom application while reflecting on critical issues from sociocultural, critical literacies, and translanguage perspectives. Conclusively, I value the experiences of having received the Arcadia Lopez endowed scholarship, had collaborated with outstanding Ph.D. students as the conference chair in the TexLER 2020 Conference at UTSA, the publication of a Special Issue of TexLER and Lenguas en Contexto, and the recognition of 2019 UTSA Who's Who Award.

What advice do you have for someone entering BBL and  the Teacher Educator  program?

The Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies has equipped me with the most needed skills to become a skilled professional and successful bilingual educator. Currently, I can celebrate with joy all the achievements throughout these years of study. Moreover, I step self-confident to secure a teaching position and engage in further professional projects that positively impact the learning communities. I encourage the upcoming students to lead their educational aspirations by taking advantage of every learning, leadership, and volunteer opportunity to maximize their scholarship experience to the fullest and step out ready to succeed in any challenges that arise.

Fall-Graduation-2020-Karl-Van_Over.png Karl E. Van Over

M.A. Student in Teaching English as a Second Language
Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies

Why did you choose UTSA?

I very much enjoyed the Interdisciplinary BA with EC-6 and ESL Texas Teacher Certification program at UTSA and wanted to earn my MA-TESL and Graduate Certificate in Linguistics from the same high-quality organization. The MA-TESL Program did not disappoint. I was sincerely impressed and thankful for the quality instruction, mentorship, and generous personal support provided by my professors. My heartfelt thanks go to Drs. Sidury Christiansen, Becky Huang, Olesya Kisselev, Jennifer Holling, Kathryn Henderson, Zhongfeng Tian, and Juliet Langman for making this experience a true pleasure.

Why did you choose the TESL program?

The MA-TESL is a terminal degree for ESL/EFL Educators, and I sought this level of professional development to best serve my students' language learning needs.

What was your favorite experience/memory within TESL program?

In addition to the high quality of instruction delivered by sincerely dedicated and professional professors, I enjoyed strong sense of personal and collective academic achievement shared among the cohort. The quality and rigor of my experience makes my completion of the program a truly edifying and empowering experience.

How has the TESL program prepared you for the next chapter of your life/employment/etc.?

Without question, the compliment of refined perspectives and new knowledge and skills gained through this program have well-prepared me to deliver professionally competent, culturally aware, and student-centered, quality language learning experiences for my students.

What advice do you have for someone entering the TESL program?

The UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) MA-TESL Program has been the most enjoyable and exciting educational experience of my life. Anyone interested in earning the MA-TESL credential from a truly first-rate team of professionals must look to UTSA first! I would hate for anyone to miss out on such a rich experience.

Fall-Graduation-2020-cristina-reyes.png Cristina Reyna

M.A. Student in Higher Education Administration
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Why did you choose UTSA?

I chose UTSA because it was close to home and San Antonio is a nostalgic city for me. I grew up coming here during summer and winter breaks and the culture is very similar to back home so I knew I wouldn't feel out of place.

Why did you choose the  Higher Education Administration  program?

I chose higher education because I had an amazing undergraduate experience at UTRGV and found a calling in student affairs. I want to help other college students have an amazing collegiate experience like I did!

What was your favorite experience/memory within the  Higher Education Administration  program?

I love that this program has a cohort model so I went through this experience with the same group of people. I've made friendships that will last a lifetime and valuable relationships with people I never imagined I could connect with. I'm grateful for this program and the opportunities it gave me to grow as a student, professional, and an individual.

How has the Higher Education Administration program prepared you for the next chapter of your life/employment/etc.?

I was able to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities and participate in quality internships with great offices. This experience is already paying off as I can communicate the skills I've developed and improved and the competencies that make me competitive in the job market.

What advice do you have for someone entering the  Higher Education Administration  program?

Befriend your classmates and professors. Everyone in this program - students, faculty, and staff alike - has quality experiences and perspectives that can really influence your time at UTSA, your professional potential, and your global outlook. Be a sponge with the information. There's a lot but it's so rich and the more you learn, the better you'll be for it in the competitive job market. Higher education is a small field, and still relatively new. The connections you make in the field will be valuable anywhere you go.

Fall-Graduation-2020-Priscilla-Zuniga.png Priscilla Zuniga

M.A. Student in Educational Psychology w/ a concentration in Behavior Analysis
Department of Educational Psychology

Why did you choose UTSA?

I chose UTSA 5 years ago after feeling the opportunities in my hometown were coming to a halt for the career path I wanted to pursue. I knew of various friends and family members who dreamed of attending a university in a larger city than Brownsville, TX, but always left their dreams to wither as “too far from my family,” “too expensive,” or “too difficult to uproot.” 

Why did you choose the Educational Psychology program?

After attaining my B.A. in Psychology, I’d noticed UTSA’s grad program in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Behavior Analysis. My ultimate goal was always doctoral education, and since I had not previously been familiar with this branch of psychology, I decided to embark on this stepping stone journey through this Master’s program to ease into further study. This has been the best decision of my academic career, as I feel totally competent in my research abilities to lead into any doctoral program in psychology.

What was your favorite experience/memory within the  Educational Psychology   program?

My absolute favorite experience was working as a GRA and behavior technician for Project PLAAY (Parent-Led Autism intervention for At-risk Young Infants) at UTSA’s Downtown Campus. Working here, in person and online during the pandemic, has built discipline skills for research, creative program planning, and individualized treatment development. I’ve developed life-long friendships throughout this program as well, and the research skills I’ve learned are crucial to my plans for Clinical Psychology doctoral education. 

What advice do you have for someone entering the  Educational Psychology   program?

One piece of advice I’d offer to someone entering this program is: do not procrastinate on reading! Focus on comprehension of dense research articles and their possible applications to your field instead of memorizing terms and facts. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, as Dr. Neely always says!