Lizette Juarez is a proud first-generation college graduate pursuing her Education Specialist Credential for Mild to Moderate Support Needs and a Master’s in Education in the Teacher Education Program. She received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology at UCSB in 2020. During her undergraduate studies she tutored at a non-profit learning center in Santa Barbara and studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. Lizette spent the last year working as a bilingual special education case manager for students in grades K-3. This experience, along with her education history, have inspired her to work and advocate for equitable educational environments for all students. She is passionate about learning and is eager to work closely with the students, teachers, and families in the Santa Barbara community.
GGSE: What do you do in your free time?
Juarez: I enjoy spending my free time doing both indoor and outdoor activities. One of my favorite outdoor activities is taking my hammock out to any open space and reading a book. I also enjoy painting, hand-making cards, trying new foods, and cooking homemade Mexican dishes. My specialty is chicken enchiladas in a green tomatillo sauce.
GGSE: Tell us about your experiences as a bilingual special education case manager. How did it help you grow as a teacher?
Juarez: It was extremely challenging to begin my first year co-teaching in the middle of a pandemic, but it was a great learning experience that inspired me to pursue the education specialist credential. I gained a greater understanding of the importance of fostering positive relationships with my students and their families. Each one enters the classroom with a unique background, and I need to honor that in order to best understand and serve my students. It also helped me grow as a teacher because I developed positive classroom management skills, time management skills, and an in-depth understanding of special education systems and best practices.
GGSE: What's your favorite memory from your time abroad in Chile?
Juarez: There are so many! One of the most remarkable memories was in October 2019. There was a public transportation fare increase that ignited social protests in the capital, Santiago, and across the nation. I was attending a politically-active university, so my in-person classes ceased in support of the social movements. It was incredible to watch the country unite in the streets, put on informational workshops, and ultimately vote to transform their outdated, authoritarian constitution from the Pinochet-dictatorship era. During this time, I learned about the historical events that led to a multitude of social, political, and economic disparities in Chile. I learned about the role my home country has played in Chile’s political movements; this reinforced the idea that I should always seek to learn from both dominant and non-dominant narratives.
GGSE: Who, living or dead, do you most admire?
Juarez: My mamí & papí (mom and dad). I admire my parents because they are the most selfless and hard-working people I know. They left their home country and migrated to find a place of security to raise their children in (2 siblings and myself). They have persevered in a country whose language they did not speak, whose social norms they were not aligned with, but whose safety allowed them to raise 3 hard-working, humble, and successful children. I admire my parents’ determination to maintain and honor our Mexican heritage and values, while also respecting those of the nation. I admire my parents because they remind me to be humble, hard working, and caring of my community. Gracias mami y papi por ser un ejemplo de un gran modelo a seguir (Thank you mom and dad for being great role models).