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University of San Francisco

Edith Arias

2020 BAGSF Essay

My life, which began in Tijuana, is in a period of marked growth after having overcome the inevitable choice (given the domestic abuse I witnessed as a child) to leave U.C. Santa Barbara at 19 after one semester in college to marry a man who would become abusive.  

The journey back to higher education began 14 years ago when my daughter, the youngest of my three children, began pre-school, and my eldest, who was born with intellectual disabilities, was in middle school. I convinced my husband to “allowed” me to continue my educational pursuits when I enrolled in community college to obtain an AA in Early Childhood Education (2006-2010), and then a BA in Child and Adolescent Development (2010-2013), because it might allow me to contribute to our family’s income.  

My joy in learning and growing intellectually somehow made the abuse tolerable until, just before my nal semesters of my Master’s in Special Education (2013-2016), my 14-year old daughter became suicidal due to the stress of the home environment. Although working only as a paraprofessional in special education, I found the determination to le a restraining order against my husband and begin divorce proceedings. My husband was ordered out of the home, and I was able to obtain my master’s degree with a Specialization in Deafness/Blindness, a Certificate in Autism, and an Education Specialist Credential in Moderate/Severe Disabilities.  

In 2016, I began teaching at Thurgood Marshall in the SF United School District as a special education teacher with the Transition Program, which supports students 18-22 with Moderate/Severe Disabilities. Although I enjoy teaching, love my students and families, and feel I am making a difference as a teacher, my decision to pursue an Ed.D. in Organization and Leadership stems in part from an emerging vision about how I can make a bigger difference as a special education administrator and a woman of color.  

Having lived for a short time in the U.S. as a young undocumented person, having lived happily in Mexico into the early years of high school, and struggled to end my way as a mother of three children, including a child with special needs, I have an intimate understanding of Latino families. I believe I can use that knowledge to serve the parent-child-teacher- H Support school system so that special education teachers can better meet the needs of monolingual Spanish-speaking special education students and their families.  

In 2016, I founded Padres en Acción – a support group to empower Spanish-speaking parents of high school students to guide their children in seeking and funding a college education – and I have been developing programming and facilitating it.  In the past year, my sense of my own public service potential has blossomed in new ways. In Fall 2019, I was selected for the 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellowship, which is providing me with funding to launch enrichment programming for Padres en Acción, to steer and expand its services.  

As I increasingly dedicate myself to serving the needs of those who do not have a voice or know about resources available to enhance their educational horizons, I am gaining a solution-driven mentality. I applied for the Emerge California training program for aspiring Democratic women leaders who will seek elected office. I was selected for Emerge California’s Bootcamp, which will lay the groundwork for the full training program in the year I run for the school board.  Completing an Ed.D. at USF with its special interest in social justice will enhance my ability to drive systematic change toward more equitable educational support for socially, linguistically and economically marginalized students and families.  Si se puede!