Speaking the Language of Equity in Education: Amalia Hernandez, Ed.D. ‘18
As the Founding Director of the Monterey Institute for English Learners (MIEL) at CSU Monterey Bay, Amalia Hernandez, Ed.D. '18, is a fierce advocate for bilingual students and their families. Assuming the position of Founding Director shortly after receiving her doctoral degree from LMU, Amalia is responsible for establishing MIEL as a center for research, advocacy, and professional development in creating equitable educational practices for working with English Learners in Monterey County. Attributing her career growth to the advocacy tools she learned while enrolled in the Ed.D. Program, Amalia walks the talk every day by putting the language of equity into practice in all of her interactions with colleagues and community members.
"The doctoral program at LMU provided me with the theoretical background and resources to become a more transformative leader in the field, and instilled in me the advocacy practices that I rely on in my discussions and in my day-to-day work," Amalia said.
Drawn to LMU's Ed.D. Program because she wanted to have an impact in her community as well as in academia, Amalia has grown immensely, both personally and professionally, and now has a deep understanding of the word "advocacy," and what it really means to live out the principles of social justice and equity.
"I have always been an "advocate" for my bilingual students and families, but I really didn't understand the depth of what that word meant until I was at LMU," Amalia shared. "I believe that the doctoral program provided me the skills to be a more socially just educator as well as to take ownership of my leadership abilities."
For Amalia, the most valuable experiences of the Ed.D. Program were the discussions she had with her faculty and cohort members around issues of equity. Through these interchanges, she learned how to participate in dialogue around sensitive and important topics and how to lead collectively, engaging with others and taking the lead from the community she serves.
"I was privileged to be part of a cohort of educators who really cared about making a difference in the lives of the students they taught, and was grateful that our professors allowed us the space to stay in the conversation, not necessarily to a resolution, but to appreciate the "unfinishedness" of our human condition (Freire, 2001)," Amalia reflected.
Amalia's dissertation, Hablando de la herida: Honoring Spanish-Speaking Parents' Experiences Obtaining School-Based Speech and Language Services for Their Children, chaired by Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor Dr. David Sapp, explored the experiences of Spanish-speaking Latino/a parents in their attempts to obtain school-based speech and language services for their children and how parents and school-based speech-language pathologists can co-create collaborative relationships.
Since earning her degree, Amalia has presented several times at the California Speech-Language and Hearing Association Conference and has had an article, "Fostering Confianza: Spanish-speaking Latino/a Parents' Perspectives on Effective Collaboration with Educators," published with the journal CABE Multilingual Educator.
When asked what advice she has for prospective doctoral candidates, Amalia shared the words of Dr. Maya Angelou: "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution" (2009).