A UCLA academic advisor encouraged Mariana Zamboni, Ed.M.'08, to apply to graduate school, even though she was almost certain that due to financial limitations and her illegal immigration status she wouldn't be able to attend. Rather than not apply at all though, Zamboni decided to apply to the Ed School. In March 2007, she was accepted into the Ed School's Risk and Prevention (R&P) Program and a month later earned her residency card.
"Mariana is an outstanding choice to receive this honor. She possesses an unwavering commitment to extending educational opportunity to those who easily fall through the cracks in our educational system," says Risk and Prevention Program Director and Lecturer Mandy Savitz-Romer. "As a member of Risk and Prevention, Mariana brought a critical voice to discussions about educational equity and social justice in our classes and the R&P community. Her enthusiasm for advocacy at both the individual and systemic level has earned her the respect of her classmates in our program and beyond."
Upon being honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the R&P Program, Zamboni answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.
Is there any professor who significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?
Two powerful women shaped my experienced at the Ed School: [teaching fellow] Cinzia Pica, Ed.M.'03, and [Lecturer] Mandy Savitz-Romer. They provided me with emotional and social support throughout the year. During the hard times they gave me the warmth of their hugs, a kleenex to dry my tears, and words charged with care -- essential things I needed to thrive.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year? What inspired me throughout the year was receiving various media offers to share my story with the public and as a result getting e-mails from undocumented immigrant students and U.S. citizens who mentioned how inspired they were after reading or hearing my story. Moreover, being contacted by film directors Yareli Arizmendi and Sergio Arau to share my life story for their upcoming documentary based on a book, Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez, solidified my purpose for being at HGSE: to create awareness of college access for immigrant students.
What are your plans for life after HGSE? After HGSE, I plan to continue working as an advocate for reform of the U.S. immigration system and the elimination of immigration detention centers. Because most media often portrays one side of the immigration debate I want to work to promote immigration discussions in a holistic manner. For example, I would like to create awareness about impact U.S foreign policy has had on the economic development and social conditions of Latin American countries, and in pushing and pulling people to emigrate to the United States.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? I have learned two valuable lessons: 1) the more uncomfortable I felt, the more I learned about others and myself. 2) When you are passionate about something and feel a sense of responsibility, let that lead you to action because only action leads to change.
What advice do you have for next year's R&P students? It is difficult to manage a full-time course [load] and a practicum but it's possible! Remember that the youth you will work with deserve your attention, care, and high expectations. You have the ability to play a significant role in their lives -- your support and genuine care can change lives.
2008 Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipients
Lizzie Adelman, IEP'08
Armida LizÃ¡rraga, L&L'08
Tim O'Brien, L&T'08
Alice Anderson, HDP'08
Robin Basu Roy, SS'08
Mark Robertson, HEP'08
Steffie van der Steen, MBE '08
Myosha McAfee, EPM '08
Antonio "TJ" Martinez, SLP '08
Arzu Mistry, AIE'08
Emmett Cartwright, TEP'08
Mariana Zamboni, R&P'08
Chris Spence, TIE'08