1) What is your name title and were your areas of study or focus in the school of education last year before you graduated?
My name is Ana Contreras and I am currently working as a Teaching Assistant Professor at CU Engage. I recently graduated from the Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice program in the School of Education. My work focused on family and community engagement in a Black and Brown urban neighborhood with a large Latin American immigrant community. My research shed light on the humanizing practices of a school and an administrator to create a welcoming environment for immigrant families and insights on how to build solidarity in a fragmented community.
2) What are areas of your current work at CU Boulder that align with your graduate studies in the school of education?
Currently, I am the Puksta Scholars coordinator at CU Boulder and also teach classes around parent engagement, leadership, and qualitative methods. These roles continue my work at the crossroads of education and engagement and allow me to share my passions and skills with undergraduate and graduate students who are learning to be more engaged educators and leaders.
3) What are some themes/ideas you are holding space for in your talk at graduation this year as you speak to students who are graduating after these last two years with COVID, uncertainty, and education as it is at this moment?
Some themes I focus on in my talk are around challenging individualized notions of success and striving for a more collective perspective for community success. I also highlight our roles as educators and leaders who accompany others, not only to guide them, but to share in our experiences. As the pandemic has forced us to reflect on what has value in our lives and the roles that we play within our communities, I encourage all of us to build communities. To do this we must listen to those that are the most silenced and disrupt the spaces and practices that marginalize others. As a community, we push for more collective success and become more caring and critically conscious educators and leaders through our accompaniment of others.
4) Is there anything else you'd like to highlight or say regarding your graduation last year and/or your talk at graduation this year?
I am so excited to be a part of a special graduation celebration that celebrates the many graduates during the pandemic. It is wonderful to be celebrating together with so many who have gone through so many challenges to be able to be where we are today!