Mayra Vargas learned early on that she had a passion for bilingual education. As a junior at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, she worked on Project Middle School Science for English Language Learners (MSSELL), a previous National Science Foundation research study on promoting science literacy for ELLs at the middle school level. The project was a collaborative effort between Sam Houston State, where Dr. Beverly J. Irby was the principal investigator, and Texas A&M University, where Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio was the principal investigator.

“It was very eye-opening,” she said. The experience piqued her interest in bilingual education and research.

Ms. Vargas earned her bachelor’s in 2013, focusing on EC-6 bilingual education. As a former Aldine ISD student wanting to give back to her community, she returned to the district as a fifth-grade bilingual English language arts teacher.

After teaching for four years, Ms. Vargas decided she was ready for more education. She enrolled in the bilingual education doctoral program at Texas A&M University this fall.

In addition to her studies, Ms. Vargas has come full circle on her research experience. She now works as a graduate assistant on Project Literacy-Infused Science Using Technology Innovation Opportunity (LISTO)—an Investing in Innovation project and validation study of the earlier Project MSSELL. Project LISTO is headed up by Dr. Lara-Alecio.

After completing the Ph.D. program, Ms. Vargas wishes to share her love of bilingual education with others. “My dream job is to work with leaders and teachers who work with bilingual and low socioeconomic students.”

“As a bilingual educator, I had the opportunity to touch the lives of many students, but that was a small percentage,” she said. “I believe that by pursuing my doctorate, I will have the chance to work with leaders and teachers that will have a more significant impact on English learners.”

“My roles consist of various projects from the literacy component to the printing of curriculum.”

Mayra Vargas

5th grade Bilingual English Language Arts Teacher, Aldine ISD