After teaching for 12 years in multilingual settings in Spain, Brazil, Peru, and the United States, Armida Lizarraga, Ed.M.'08, had many questions to ask about language acquisition, the role of policy, and the social context of learning.
As one of the first Language and Literacy (L&L) master's students to visit campus a year ago, Lizarraga demonstrated her eagerness to learn and find answers to her many questions.
"Armida is an enthusiastic learner who is constantly looking for intellectual challenges. She has keen insights about the relationship between theory and practice and seeks out best practices for all students, especially those in underserved populations," says Language and Literacy Program Director and Lecturer Pamela Mason. "In class, she sees issues from multiple perspectives and responds thoughtfully to her classmates' comments. She has maximized her learning experiences during her year at HGSE, taking advantage of research opportunities, guest lectures, and presentations. Armida demonstrates the utmost collegial attitude; she is always supportive of classmates and participates in many of the school's and program's social events. She has been in integral part of recruitment for next year's cohort. We are lucky to consider her one of ours!"
Upon being honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the L&L Program, Lizarraga answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.
Did you have a favorite class at HGSE? I enjoyed all my classes here. Some were especially challenging and helped me rethink my role as an educator and my ideas about policy. Professor Fernando Reimers' Education Policy Analysis and Research in Developing Countries class helped me think deeply about some of the challenges that my country, Peru, has to overcome. [Adjunct Lecturer] Richard Rothstein's class, Issues in Educational Policy, has been one of the most thought-provoking classes I have ever taken. Its academic rigor and complex treatment of U.S. educational issues gave me a new perspective on the subject. My language and literacy classes helped me acquire deep knowledge about the different components of literacy acquisition. Domestic and international policy classes combined with language and literacy classes certainly gave me stronger foundation as an educator.
Did any professor significantly shape your experience at the Ed School? All of my professors have helped me learn new things or see things differently. Since the two classes I took with Professor Reimers, I definitely rethought my role as an educator and the possibility of doing something in Peru. He encouraged me to think about this possibility, helped me brainstorm ideas of areas where I can work, and even put me in touch with people with whom I could potentially collaborate. I would have never thought about this before.
Any advice for next year's L&L students? The workload is heavy, but there are other things. Get involved. Meet people from other programs. Each student here has had amazing experiences and have original ideas. Attend talks at other schools. I had the opportunity to attend so many interesting ones I can't even mention all of them here. Talk with your professors, they are extremely accessible. To me, it was a luxury to be able to discuss questions I had about issues in education with them.
What one thing would you change about education today? Education cannot solve all of society's problems, but certainly some. To me, the biggest challenge in the United States and the world is educational inequality. Everybody should have the same educational opportunities not only to have the skills and knowledge but to be able to have a say in their own destinies.