Curriculum & Instruction (Bilingual Education) Senior Irma Aguirre

Through the IE Pre-Grad internship I have gained tremendous insight. It has been exactly what I needed in order to guide me and give me a glimpse of the world that I want to be a part of. The research, the topics, and the conferences, all seem to satisfy what both as a professional and human being I want to be. Going through the ever so brief journey of college, amidst all the papers, deadlines, and politics of an education, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do once I got through my undergrad program. My goals and aspirations seemed to be infinite and hazy. I was always too busy trying to get through my undergrad that I never really gave myself the space and time to figure out what came afterwards. I knew I wanted to do something, I just didn't know what. I was hoping to get some direction and orientation, and that is exactly what I got out of this program. This program along with my mentor, have allotted me the time to find myself a space in the realm of academia.

Being part of this internship allowed me to be part of my mentor's qualitative research. I learned how to carry out a research, and what considerations to take when carrying it out. We discussed the different kinds of manner that research is presented in, and the fallacies of it. He explained that it is important, when carrying out a qualitative research to have those that are the center of the research have their voices made heard. He explained that it is important to present their thoughts intact and uninfluenced from our bias and perceptions. Furthermore the research to me was far beyond just a how-to guide to constructing research, it was something very intimate and emotional. The research focused on Latinas and the dilemmas they face as Mexican American woman growing up in a constant struggle of identity, cultural clashes, and psychological borders. Knowing that this kind of research can be conducted, motivated me to pursue this kind of research and field. I was completely unaware that issues that deal with feminism, classicism, social injustices, culture, etc. are dealt with in the world of academics.

In addition to the research experience, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I really wanted to pursue the road of sleepless nights, and intense conscientization. My mentor of course talked about the glitz and glamour of pursuing something that your passionate about, but he also discussed the difficulties and hardships of attaining a PHD. When he spoke of the hardships, I found his words very intimidating. They threatened my passion and eagerness to pursue this degree.

As a woman, my role is far beyond just a PHD degree. Though my culture does value education, they also give much importance to family. I felt very conflicted between pursuing a doctoral degree, and establishing a family. I was not sure if I could have both, and I didn't want to sacrifice one for the other. Yet attending the AERA conference helped me realize what I really wanted to do. Talking to all these professors, listening to intense sessions, made me realize that this is what I wanted for myself. I went to Chicago not knowing what to get out of the conference, and I learned so much. I was introduced to other PHD students. I got to hear their perspectives on getting a doctoral program. I learned about the different things that I could pursue and how I can go about them. Being around all these different grad students, attending all these conferences the issues that were being discussed were all amazing. Like I mentioned before I did not know what to do and where to go after finishing undergrad school. At the conference I met the coordinator of masters program that defined everything that I wanted to do. It dealt with social political activism. It was really appealing and interesting. I learned more about, talked to the coordinator of the program, and decided to make that program the next step after my graduation. I was glad that I learned about that program, since it provided a lot of direction for my life.

Another reason that I was really glad for the AERA conference was that I was able to meet all these professors who are so amazing, driven, and passionate. They served as an inspiration. The more I saw these people, and heard them speak about all these incredible issues and topics, the more I wanted to be up there doing what they were doing.

Participation in the IE Pre-Grad internship helped me see that I want to give back to my community. Through the attainment of my PHD, I hope to coordinate pre - service teacher programs to help train tomorrows teachers. I now know that the more I become educated, the better equipped I will be to train teachers to be more progressive and be aware of the fallacies of the education system, as well as the socio-cultural factors that affect the cognitive development of the students, which go hand in hand with their success and self-perception.