SWT three receive Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship

Date of release: 05/17/02

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS Stephanie Sierra, a Southwest Texas State University senior from San Antonio; Patrece Reese, a senior from Round Rock; and Lisa Jefferson, a senior from Killeen have each received one of the coveted 25 national Fellowships for Students of Color Entering the Teaching Profession from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. SWT is the only university to have all three of its applicants selected to receive the honor and award.

In competition with almost 75 students from universities such as Duke and Princeton, Sierra, Reese and Jefferson proved that they were committed to the teaching profession.

The fellowship offers minority students in the arts and sciences, who are entering the teaching profession, a grant for $12,000 to enter a one-year graduate program or a $16,000 grant for a two-year graduate program.

The three will also receive a $2,500 grant for a seven-week project related to teaching, which they will complete this summer. Sierra and Jefferson chose Roxanne Cuellar, SWT assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), as their mentor. Reese chose Ann Hall, associate professor of C&I. Each of these professors will receive a $1,500 grant from the Rockefeller Fund for guiding the young teachers in their projects and throughout the rest of their undergraduate education.

After passing the screening committee, the three were interviewed in New York City by the Brothers Fund committee, who then selected the fellows based on their potential to become good teachers.

Sierra, an interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in early childhood education through fourth grade, said, “I have always felt as though I could connect with children. I just hope to someday make a difference.”

Sierra will be working in San Marcos this summer teaching 3rd–5th graders at Wonderland School the value of diversity.

Reese, also an interdisciplinary studies major, dreams of someday becoming an elementary school principal.

“A lot of children, minority kids, have no idea they are smart,” Reese said, describing her passion for teaching. “If you tell them they are smart, that they can do this, then they will do it; they will achieve success.”

Jefferson is also an interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in early childhood education through fourth grade. Jefferson said her desire to become a teacher started when she was young.

“The demographics of the student body are changing, but demographics of teachers are still predominantly white females,” Jefferson said. “The students need to have educators that can relate to them culturally so that they understand that school is for everyone and their education is relevant to them.”

The three fellows will meet the 22 other Rockefeller fellows this summer in New York and will continue to interact with them throughout graduate school.

(Contact information for each of the recipients can be provided upon request. Please contact Lisa Cruz at 512.245.2180 or lz10@swt.edu for more information.)