September 2021
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There are many new faces here at the College of Education. Not only are we welcoming the largest class of first-year Education students in the past three years, we are also welcoming several new faculty and staff members to the team! Get to know these new Wildcats in Dean Bruce Johnson’s latest Message from the Dean.
Elizabeth Moraga wearing an orange and white striped shirt underneath a green tree
One new staff member missing from that list is Elizabeth Moraga, the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies’ new curriculum coordinator. Here’s a little bit about Elizabeth:

An alum of The University of Arizona, Elizabeth Moraga is an educator at heart as she has spent 22 years teaching in public education. Over the past two years, she worked for the University’s Office of the Registrar in the Room and Course Scheduling Department approving course and scheduling classes. Outside of work, she loves cooking, trying new recipes, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Welcome, Elizabeth!
Valerie Shirley and Jeremy Garcia will lead new AERA section dedicated to Indigenous teaching and teacher education

Last semester, Indigenous Teacher Education Project Directors Valerie Shirley and Jeremy Garcia were awarded the college’s Outstanding Faculty Service/Outreach Award for their dedication to Indigenous education. Part of their commitment has included advocating for a stronger research focus on Indigenous education within the American Educational Research Association Division K: Teaching and Teacher Education.

After three years of meeting with AERA Division K leadership and support from Indigenous scholars, Division K will add a new section that will be dedicated to Indigenous teaching and teacher education. The new section was formally introduced during the AERA 2021 Division K Paper and Symposium Session, Indigenous Education: Teaching and Teacher Education as Decolonial Praxis.

The new section, which will launch in 2022, will engage not only a refusal and critique of the historical, social and political settler colonial structures, but also revitalize and sustain Indigeneity through Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies, relationality, responsibility, reverence and reciprocity. It will also advance the global context of Indigenous human and legal rights through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and the sovereignty and self-determination movements of Indigenous Peoples.

Shirley and Garcia will lead the new section, which they say emerged with the support of several Indigenous scholars engaged in Indigenous teacher education. Special recognition includes Vice President of Division K Dr. Dorothea Anagnostopoulos and Indigenous scholars Dr. Jo-ann Archibald, Dr. Jan Hare, Dr. Michelle Jacob, Dr. Leilani Sabzalian, Dr. Danielle Lansing and Dr. Filiberto Barajas-López.

Please join us in congratulating Shirley and Garcia on this major achievement!
Valerie Shirley
Valerie Shirley
Jeremy Garcia
Felisia Tagaban Gaskin
Felisia Tagaban Gaskin enters new role to focus on establishing educational pathways for SUSD Indigenous youth

Felisia Tagaban Gaskin, former graduate assistant for Native SOAR, recently transitioned from the Native SOAR team to a full-time Student Relations Coordinator and Recruiter for The University of Arizona Office of Admissions, College of Education and Sunnyside Unified School District.

This new position emerged from Tagaban Gaskin’s advocacy and the support of Assistant Professor Karina Salazar, SUSD Superintendent Steve Holmes, VP of Enrollment Management Kasey Urquidez, Dean Bruce Johnson, and EPSP Department Head Regina Deil-Amen. She approached leaders at both The University of Arizona and SUSD after seeing the need for these institutions to establish educational pathways for Indigenous youth. And this is exactly what her work in this new position will entail. 

Both the College and Native SOAR are thrilled for Tagaban Gaskin. Native SOAR wrote the following to reflect on the impact she has had on the College, University, and tribal communities throughout Arizona through her work with the program over the past few years:

“When Felisia came to the College of Education in the 2017-18 school year, she served as a full-time SUSD Native American Education Program student advisor and as a part-time Native SOAR coordinator, where she and Dr. Amanda Cheromiah kept the program afloat. From 2018 to July 2021, Felisia served as a Native SOAR graduate assistant. During this time, Felisia was instrumental to the institutionalization of Native SOAR.

She and students from Voices of Indigenous Concerns in Education (VOICE) created campus-wide systemic change for Indigenous UArizona students. Through Felisia and VOICE's efforts, Native SOAR received funding for operations and a director position. Additionally, Felisia served as the primary content creator for Native SOAR’s social media. She was critical to increasing the digital presence of the program in the community. Felisia also organized and participated in mentoring and community events, and school programs, which strengthened relationships with tribal communities and local school district families. We look forward to partnering with Felisia as she works with the College of Education, Admissions, and SUSD to guide and prepare Indigenous students for their journeys into and through college!”

Photo credit: Amanda Cheromiah
Three UA students in red and blue on campus with text that reads Welcome Arizona Wildcats in red and blue with I replaced by saguaro cactus
COE Student Welcome

Join us Wednesday, September 8, for the College of Education Student Welcome event! We’ll be in the courtyard on the south side of the Education building from 3 to 5 p.m. There will be games, food, and opportunities to meet faculty members and learn about available opportunities in the College!

Learn more about Wildcat Welcome events at
WordCats and MathCats flyer with Wilbur and Wilma next to balloons
WordCats and MathCats are looking for new tutors!

WordCats and MathCats are College of Education programs designed to raise reading and math skills in young children. The programs provide opportunities for college students who wish to become teachers to gain valuable supervised classroom experience. After training at the beginning of the semester, tutors work with elementary, middle, or high school students who can benefit from one-on-one support.

Visit or contact Sarah Albrecht at to learn more.
Pathways to Teaching student teacher calls on student in classroom

A lot happened over the past few months – from the Olympics to launching a new program, we’ve covered the highlights below:
The inaugural Pathways to Teaching cohort graduated
The first cohort of the college's Sunnyside Unified School District Pathways to Teaching program officially graduated! After a successful first cohort with Sunnyside Unified School District, the Pathways to Teaching program is planning to expand to other school districts, like Oracle, Sierra Vista and Casa Grande, next year.

Program Director Marcy Wood and graduates of the program spoke with the Arizona Daily Star, KOLD, and KGUN about future plans for the Pathways program. They also talked about how the program — and the $1,000 monthly stipend — helped them accomplish their goals of becoming teachers.

Learn more about the program at
TREC officially launched
After three years of preparing and planning, the Tucson Regional Educator Collaborative officially launched! The TREC team rolled out the inauguration with a successful TREC Launch Week. The week included a variety of online activities, like professional development webinars and a social media challenge, and ended with a hybrid launch event, which KOLD attended and featured in this story.

TREC's mission is to bring together the region’s educators, resources and partners to support their evolving professional growth. Learn more about the program at
Three College of Education students compete in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo
Taylor McQuillin, Jessie Harper, and Dejah Mulipola – all master’s students in the Educational Leadership program – were busy this summer to say the least. Each of them traveled to Tokyo for the long awaited 2021 Summer Olympics! McQuillin, a pitcher, represented Team Mexico while Harper, an infield, and Mulipola, a catcher and a new student in the EDL program, represented Team USA.

Please join us in congratulating all three of these ladies on this major accomplishment!
Taylor McQuillin in blue Arizona jersey
Taylor McQuillin
Jessie Harper
Jessie Harper
Dejah Mulipola in Team USA jersey
Dejah Mulipola
Photo of Renae Mayes with a burnt red background. She is wearing a yellow blouse and a pretty red and purple scarf.
Renae Mayes co-edits special issue for Teaching and Supervision in Counseling

Disability and Psychoeducational Studies Associate Professor Renae Mayes, along with Penn State Associate Professor of Education Paul Harris and Florida State University Associate Professor Erik Hines, co-edited a special issue in Teaching and Supervision in Counseling (TSC) 
entitled, Anti-Racist Counselor Education. Read the full article at
blaine smith
Studying the perspectives of bilingual students on multimodal composition in the English language arts classroom

Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies Associate Professor Blaine Smith is the author of a recent article in TESOL Quarterly entitled, ‘It Made Me Think in a Different Way’: Bilingual Students’ Perspectives on Multimodal Composition in the Language Arts Classroom. This article, co-authored with SLAT doctoral candidate Natalie Amgott and Irina Malova of the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, examined 94 tenth grade students’ perspectives on multimodal composing for academic purposes. The findings from this study reveal how students overwhelmingly held a positive view of digital projects for supporting their learning processes.

Valerie Shirley, Jeremy Garcia, and JD Lopez contribute to new book for educators of Native youth

On Indian Ground: The Southwest is one of ten regionally focused books that explores American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian education in depth. Co-edited by Mary Jo Fox, the text is designed to be used by educators of Native youth and emphasizes best practices found throughout the state. Included in the book are chapter contributions from ITEP Directors Valerie Shirley and Jeremy Garcia and EPSP Assistant Professor Jameson D. Lopez. Congratulations to these three faculty members on this major accomplishment!

The book looks at the history of Indian education within the southwestern states. The authors also analyze education policy and tribal education departments to highlight early childhood education, gifted and talented educational practice, parental involvement, language revitalization, counseling, and research. These chapters expose cross-cutting themes of sustainability, historical bias, economic development, health and wellness, and cultural competence.

Learn more about On Indian Ground: The Southwest at
Valerie Shirley
Valerie Shirley
Jeremy Garcia
Jameson D. Lopez
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Alba Antonieta Porras Hoyos

Name: Alba Antonieta Porras Hoyos
Program: Counseling M.A. (Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Specialization)
Expected graduation: May 2023
Hometown: Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico 

What led you to the University of Arizona College of Education?
I began my grad journey in The University of Arizona counseling program during the Fall 2020 semester. I wanted to join the program because of the curriculum, its phenomenal offerings of educational experiences, and because it is one of the highest ranked programs in the US. After a semester in the program, I learned about an opportunity to work for the College of Education. Since January 2021, I have been blessed to be working for Associate Dean Sara Chavarria as a graduate assistant. 

What have you learned in the College of Education that's made a difference to you?
The programs I have been part of have led me to understand more about diversity, inclusion, identity development, and the resilience of communities. It’s been a journey of discovery that has helped me dismantle beliefs and also help me learn more about myself and the people around me. 

I have also been presented with opportunities to learn about new software and other skills. The professional skills I have acquired throughout my work in the College of Education while also getting to make an impact on the programs I’ve partaken are one of the best experiences I’ve had in the College. It has definitely made a difference in my life. 

Tell us about something you're involved with in the College of Education and how it's impacted your life.
I’m working for the Linking Southwest Heritage through Archeology program as a program coordinator. LSWHTA is a program that connects high school students from Latinx and Native American/Indigenous backgrounds with their cultural histories by using regional archeology. The program goes deeper into the understanding of archaeology as people, as place, as practice, as profession and as personal. The program helps the students in the understanding of their identity as they learn more about their culture and heritage. 

I am also collaborating in an innovative and transformative research project where I have learned a lot about research and data gathering. 
Outside of the College of Education, I am a Mindful Ambassador and a RISE leader for CAPS and I facilitate groups at the Center for Compassion Studies at The University of Arizona. 

What are your post-graduation plans as of now?
I’m hoping to graduate in May 2023. After that, I’d like to apply to OPT, which will allow me to apply to a position in the field here in the US. My hope is to acquire practice in the field after graduation before returning to my country. 

Do you have any advice for students just getting started in college?
I think honoring your path and embracing how that looks for you is important! Look for ways to tailor your experience to what you need and what will get you closer to your goals. 

The College and the University offer many programs that will get you connected to people . I think it’s good to join those clubs or programs that are apart from your degree. Having out of classroom experiences, such as joining clubs, volunteering, and partaking in different programs will widen your perspective and increase your toolbox while you get to know amazing people! 

And lastly, take care of you. Self-care is crucial throughout your college experience.