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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA graduate receives National Fellowship

Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Natiely Munguia will be going into her first year of graduate school at the UA College of Education with a fellowiship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

A recent graduate of the UA was one of nine students from around the country to receive the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color.

Natiely Munguia, an alumna of the UA’s School of Government and Public Policy and Department of Spanish and Portuguese, grew up in Mexico and moved to Tucson at the age of 7. She came from a low-income family but her parents always stressed the importance of education.

Last spring, Munguia was required to perform 16 hours of service for the Spanish-speaking community.

Munguia, and former classmate Lilian Nunez, volunteered at the Sam Lena-South Tucson Branch Library to teach citizenship classes. They started out by translating the class from English to Spanish but were later encouraged by class instructor Nora Gleason to lead the class on their own. It was Gleason’s dedication to helping the citizens of South Tucson that inspired Munguia to pursue a teaching career.

“That clicked into my head how there are these amazing teachers who don’t just stand up there and talk, they actually want to engage you and have some sort of conversation with you so you can actually learn,” Munguia said.

When Munguia received an email about the Wilson-Rockefeller fellowship she said she knew that she wanted to apply.

“Education in this country is your social mobilizer,” Munguia said. “I could not afford to continue my studies if it hadn’t been for this fellowship.”

The top 20 applicants were asked to compete in a series of interviews in Boston and from there, nine recipients were chosen.

“When I went to compete as a finalist in Boston, I realized that there are more people like me — that actually want to dedicate their lives to helping others,” Munguia said.

The goal of the fellowship is to promote and inspire people of color to teach in the K-12 public school system, according to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation website. The website also states that as the percentage of students of color has risen rapidly, the percentage of teachers of color has slowly declined.

“Natiely is very charismatic. She’s very optimistic and I think that rubs off on people. Maybe that had something to do with the interview process and getting along with other applicants,” said Betzi Castillo, a former classmate of Munguia’s.

Munguia is currently enrolled in the Teach Arizona Master of Education program, which is a one-year program for recent graduates who want to become teachers.

After the program, Munguia said she plans to teach Spanish at a high-needs public high school in Tucson.

“There are a lot of students here that need extra help,” Munguia said. “And I hope to be that motivational figure that helps them break those barriers and break those socioeconomic stigmas that keep all these kids from moving on.”

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