Friday, August 31, 2018

Meet a Roadrunner: Vanessa Mari-Acevedo is embracing opportunities abroad to become a better teacher

Meet a Roadrunner: Vanessa Mari-Acevedo is embracing opportunities abroad to become a better teacher

Vanessa Mari-Acevedo

(March 8, 2017) -- Meet Vanessa Mari-Acevedo. This UTSA doctoral student wants to become a university professor so she can help the teaching community.

Mari-Acevedo was an English teacher in her native Puerto Rico when she became interested in teacher professional development.

While looking for graduate programs to further strengthen her knowledge and skills in bilingual education, she learned about UTSA's doctoral program in Culture, Literacy and Language through a mentor at the University of Puerto Rico. A UTSA doctoral student she knew likewise spoke highly of UTSA's program and its UTSA Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies.

After digging in to learn more about the research the university's bicultural-bilingual studies faculty was conducting, the 28-year-old knew that UTSA was the place for her. She wanted to learn from UTSA professors and collaborate with them to develop new teaching ideas.

"I love the support that I've received from UTSA faculty," said Mari-Acevedo. "The willingness of the professors to work with you—they don't see you only as a student but as a colleague. I love being a part of that."

As a UTSA doctoral student in Culture, Literacy and Language, Mari-Acevedo has landed several international learning opportunities. She was selected to participate in the University Teaching Fellow program, which helps UTSA doctoral students develop their teaching skills while providing service to their departments. During the fellowship, she traveled to Aguascalientes, Mexico with UTSA Assistant Professor Peter Sayer to study the impact of an early childhood English language program in Aguascalientes. While there, she met with primary school students and teachers to learn about new teaching philosophies and further develop her own.

In addition to working on her Ph.D., Mari-Acevedo is teaching English at the University of Piura in Perú through a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. She was selected for the fellowship following a State Department recruiting event at UTSA.

Mari-Acevedo also has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that will allow her to teach English as a foreign language at an institution in the University of Mexico system after she graduates from UTSA this May.

Ultimately, she hopes to be hired as a professor at a university so she can continue to teach English and create professional development opportunities for other teachers.

"UTSA is where I had my first opportunity to work with pre-service teachers, and it was awesome seeing them develop their teaching styles," said Mari-Acevedo. "What I learned at UTSA will help me carry those lessons forward so I can help other English teachers just like me."

- Brian Ward


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