Mamiverse is delighted to announce the Grand Prize winner of a $5,000 Target GiftCard in our Latina Moms Changing America Contest, Dr. Maria Elisa Paredes! She, and all of the fantastic nominees, deserve a round of applause for sharing their stories, sharing themselves, and inspiring all of us to be the best moms and daughters we can be.
All moms want their kids to have the best education possible, and its importance was a common theme in many of the nominee essays; Dr. Paredes is a mother of three and an educator who has devoted her career to improving school programs for both teachers and students, promoting language diversity, and fighting language discrimination.
With an M.A. in Lingustics, Dr. Paredes started out as a teacher’s aid in English as a second language for primary and secondary students in the Midwest. She was enthusiastic about working with children and determined to make a difference in their lives but she found the monolingual teachers’ lack of understanding about how to work with these bilingual students and the inadequacy of the school’s language program rather appalling. She realized there had to be a better way to teach the students, and it had to start with the teachers.
We rely on dedicated teachers to make sure our children have the tools to learn. So many children in this country are raised in Spanish-speaking or bilingual households. Without effective language programs, these children suffer academically and have to work much harder to reach their full potential. Moreover, rather than benefiting from speaking more than one language, bilingual students are often stigmatized.
Disillusioned but not defeated, Dr. Paredes saw this lack and was determined do something about it. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in education while creating a language unit designed to increase linguistic knowledge and change attitudes toward language variety for pre-service teachers using an overview of general linguistics, phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics, language acquisition and bilingualism, and utilized multiple digital tools.
When she’s not working to improve language education and making it possible for children from every background to pursue their dreams, Dr. Paredes enjoys swimming and spending time with her family. She truly is a Latina Mom Changing America.