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Leticia Grimaldo receives Jackson Scholar Award

By Marc Speir
University News Service
September 21, 2007

Leticia Grimaldo
The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) recently honored Leticia Grimaldo, a doctoral student in the education and school improvement program at Texas State University-San Marcos, with the prestigious Jackson Scholar award.

The Jackson Scholar program encourages outstanding graduate students of color who are studying in UCEA educational leadership doctoral programs to be mentored and eventually mentor others interested in the profession of educational administration.

The purpose of the program is to promote the diversity of society in school programs and encourage equal representation in educational administration.

After nationwide applications, Grimaldo was selected as one of only 37 individuals to receive the award and one of only three in the state of Texas .

“It’s a huge honor and it’s exciting to network with others to receive guidance and return that guidance when I’m a mentor,” Grimaldo said. “I’m really into social justice and equity and I’m very honored to be an ambassador of Texas State .”

Growing up in west Texas town of Brownfield , Grimaldo rarely came in contact with other Latinos and says the experience serves as a constant reminder for her to provide a voice for minorities.

Her love affair with education began upon receiving a teaching degree and certification from the University of Texas at Austin .

Grimaldo went on to teach bilingual education for nine years at Pflugerville ISD and Round Rock ISD before arriving at Texas State and earning a master’s in educational leadership and entry into the doctoral program.

Her current employer is the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, where she works as a statewide coordinator in developing strategies for literacy and teacher assistance in reading instruction.

“I have to say, Texas State is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Grimaldo said.

While working towards her master’s degree, Grimaldo was inspired to pursue a doctorate by professors Sara Nelson, Charles Slater and Miguel Guajardo.

“The professors here are so amazing,” Grimaldo said. “They really get to know you personally and want to see you succeed.”

According to the UCEA, only 14.8 percent of school administrators in the U.S. are people of color. In colleges of education, where most school system leaders are educated, the percent of faculty members of color is 15.5 percent.

In contrast, The United States Census Bureau reports that people of color make up 25.3 percent of the total population.

Grimaldo says it’s important to fill the void of minority voices in faculty and educational administration.

“The leaders we have in our schools need to reflect the diversity we see in our student population,” Grimaldo said. “All educators should get know who their students truly are in terms of culture and background and see it as an asset to their instruction.”

Grimaldo will accept her Jackson Scholar award and meet her mentor at a UCEA reception and conference Nov. 15-18 in Alexandria , Va.

Her goal is complete her dissertation by spring 2009 and pursue bilingual educational administration in Texas government.