SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Maria Tinajero, a Southwest Texas State University junior from Austin, has received one of 25 national fellowships from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
In competition with almost 75 students from universities such as Brown, Duke, Dartmouth College and Princeton, Tinajero proved that she was committed to the teaching profession and worthy of the prestigious honor.
The fellowship offers minority students in the arts and sciences, who are entering the teaching profession, a grant for $12,000 to enter a one-year graduate program or a $16,000 grant for a two-year graduate program. Tinajero will also receive a $2,500 grant for a seven-week project related to teaching during the summer between her junior and senior year of undergraduate work. Tinajero chose Jennifer Battle, SWT associate professor of curriculum and instruction, as her mentor. Battle will receive a $1,500 grant from the Rockefeller Fund for guiding Tinajero in her project and throughout her undergraduate career.
After passing the screening committee, Tinajero was interviewed in New York City by the Brothers Fund committee, who then selected the fellows based on their potential to become good teachers.
Tinajero, an interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in bilingual education, said she was not sure what impressed the committee the most, but she just expressed her deep desire to serve her community and make an impact in children’s lives.
“They asked me ‘What motivates you to want to teach?’ and I said making a difference in the life of a child, having the opportunity to influence their development, is both a daunting task but a privilege and an honor,” Tinajero explained.
Tinajero, who is a first-generation college student, was born in Mexico City and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico. before moving to Austin nine years ago. She said her passion is to teach the next generation of immigrant children.
When asked by the committee what two things she wanted her students to take away with them once she starts teaching, Tinajero answered, “a positive self esteem and an experience of success. I want them to know that they will all succeed in my classroom, which I hope will motivate them to continue to succeed.”
Tinajero will meet the 24 other Rockefeller fellows this summer in Chicago and will continue to interact with them throughout graduate school. She said she has not decided where to attend graduate school, but that this fellowship is a wonderful opportunity to continue her education.