Spotlight: Gabriella Corales

Student’s commitment to education to be fostered by national award

By Mary Kincy

Gabriella Corales

Gabriella Corales

Gabriella Corales will be the first to admit life isn’t always easy. But for Corales, obstacles have proved to be opportunities in disguise, setting her on the path to becoming a mentor for those attending schools with high concentrations of at-risk students.

Corales, 21, will graduate from Texas State in May with a bachelor’s degree in English. Her minor is communication studies, and she plans to put that skill to work in reaching out to students she will teach in connection with her receipt of a 2012 fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund for Aspiring Teachers of Color.

The fellowship will provide Corales with a $30,000 award to attend a graduate program in education, after which she has agreed to spend three years teaching students at a high-need public school. But three years, in Corales’ estimation, isn’t long enough. She plans a lifelong career educating at-risk students.

SEEING THE NEED

“The field needs teachers that want to be teaching,” she explains, “that are very passionate about educating but also want to understand their students as individuals.”

Corales knows what it’s like to attend a high-need school.

“The district that I was in for high school — it wasn’t funded enough,” Corales, a San Antonio native, says. “There were a lot of opportunities that we missed out on. It kind of reinforced the notion that I need to get into these schools and try to impact these kids’ lives.”

In preparing for her teaching career, Corales hopes to attend graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Boston University or Stanford University. Although she doesn’t yet know where she will teach once her education is complete, she said she hopes to one day make an impact in Texas schools. The location, however, isn’t what really matters to Corales.

“I know wherever I go, I’m going to be able to impact those students and make a difference,” she explains.

Getting there

Corales was one of just 25 students nationwide to receive the 2012 Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund fellowship, a program she learned about in a last-minute e-mail sent to Texas State students by Dr. C. Britt Bousman. With the help of Bousman and Dr. Jaime Chahin, dean of the College of Applied Arts, she prepared her application materials in just one week. They were strong enough to earn her a summons to Washington, D.C., where program administrators interviewed her. In December, she learned she had won a fellowship — one she says has already changed her life, allowing her to network with top educators and to travel the nation.

“My ideal goal of being an educator is just so much more of a reality,” Corales says. And she credits Texas State, in addition to the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund, with making that happen. In addition to the help she received from Bousman and Chahin in applying for the fellowship, Corales says Dr. Jaime Mejia offered her considerable assistance in applying to graduate school.

“The time and effort that all three of these men put into ensuring my success is a blessing and is something I am tremendously grateful for,” she says.

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