A CSUN liberal studies student was named a Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow (WW-RBF) for Aspiring Teachers of Color in January.
Deborah Dougall-Loperena, a senior, has been chosen along with 24 other students from various schools to receive $30,000 for enrollment to a graduate education program that will help earn a master’s degree and certification within their subject areas.
“People were looking at me funny when I found out I won because I just started dancing in the hallways at school,” Dougall-Loperena said. “I just felt so blessed.”
Dougall-Loperena is the first in her family to graduate from high school, as well as get a college degree and hopes that she can be a good example for her nieces and nephews.
“If auntie can do it, who comes from another country, then we should be able to do this too since we were born here,” she said.
Dougall-Loperena is the youngest of 10 children born to Belize immigrants.
Chosen fellows are expected to posses certain qualities, said William Dandridge, Program Officer and Director for WW-RBF.
“We are looking for someone with a strong commitment for service,” Dandridge said. “They need to have a passion to work with young people in underperforming schools.”
The program wants to make sure to choose the right person for the fellowship and in order to do so they fly out the candidates to get to know them and do personal interviews.
“I met so many people that were over qualified for this fellowship,” Dougall-Loperena said. “But they couldn’t keep all of them.”
Having been through eight and a half years of military service, Dougall- Loperena realized said she needed to get out of the military so she could teach.
In addition to serving in the military she was a special education assistant for three years and volunteered at Everyone’s a Reader program.
“Having this financial weight off of my shoulders is such a blessing,” Dougall-Loperena said. “Now I can look forward to teaching kids.”
The goal of the program is to help recruit, support, and retain individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers in the United States.