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!Se presentado! IE Graduate Student Mentor Aims to Improve Language Learning for ESL Students  

image of NathalyGrowing up in a military family, Nathaly Batista-Morales faced her share of challenges while attending schools on both the mainland and the island.

“I had to learn and relearn English and Spanish every time we moved from my hometown in Puerto Rico to the U.S. and back,” says Batista-Morales. “My bilingual and bicultural identities are a big part of who I am and why I love my work.”

Now a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, she is studying and teaching bilingual education with the goal of opening more windows of opportunity for Latinx students.

“I believe in access to quality, bilingual instruction for our Latinx children and other children of color in a world where language education is becoming less about a right and more about a commodity,” says Batista-Morales, who earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

She is also a mentor in the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship program (IE) helping undergraduates chart out their paths in graduate school and beyond. Her efforts have recently been rewarded with a $1,000 JoyLynn Hailey Reed Graduate Student Achievement Award, which was made possible by a $25,000 endowment by Carol and Jim Hailey. The award honors UT alumna Dr. JoyLynn Reed, who helped shape the IE program when it began in the Graduate School Professional Development Program in the 1990s.

“The IE program has made me feel like my service as a mentor is valued in a space where research and publications are held as the most important,” she adds.

Batista-Morales said she is grateful for the award—and for the opportunity to mentor two very promising young undergraduates.  No matter where her students go in life, she hopes they will always remember one important message: “!Se presentado!”

“It means, ask, get in there, introduce yourself to professors, leaders, other students,” Batista-Morales adds. “Visualize the experiences you need to have and go ask for them. Someone has to get it, why can´t it be you?”

About IE: Housed within the DDCE and the Moody College of Communication, the IE Program connects undergrads with graduate students and internship opportunities. The program gives graduate students a unique teaching experience by allowing them to work one-on-one with undergraduates. Through mentorship, they’re gaining real-world knowledge that will better prepare them for careers in the classroom and beyond.