Mar 01, 2019

Relay Recruiter Spotlight: Pamela Garza

Pam Garza


Growing up in the bi-lingual/bi-cultural area of the U.S.-Mexico border city called Edinburg, as well as having the opportunity to visit other areas and experience other cultures; I have been exposed to many different beliefs and customs.  Although I do not have an undergraduate degree in education, I do have a lifetime’s worth of experience being the child of educators. In high school, I was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, providing a full ride to any US institution of my choice. I received my undergraduate degree from The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in 2010 where I double majored in mass communication and marketing. After graduation, I worked at UTPA in the Office of International Programs coordinating a variety of international initiatives on campus and within the community. In 2014 and 2015, I had the pleasure of living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to complete a life goal of improving my knowledge of the language, culture, and policies of the country of my grandparents. I was the youngest musician to begin playing with the nationally recognized UTPA mariachi at the age of 15 years old and tour with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. In 2016, I, along with my previous coworkers in the Pre-freshman Engineering Program, received the UTSA University Excellence Award for Team Spirit. I have completed a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in Project Management this past December and I am the first female on the Garza side of the family to receive a graduate degree. In the summer of 2017, I was selected to attend an all-expense paid cultural immersion program to Cuba as part of my studies. Dance is a passion of mine and I have been an instructor for country, cumbia, salsa, and bachata for over 10 years.  

What inspired you to choose a career in teacher recruitment? Have you always been a recruiter?

Pam Garza

Both of my parents, as well as several of my relatives are/were teachers in public K-12 and Title I schools. Education is in my blood and I got to see first hand what it takes to be a teacher at a young age. My parents would stay late at school or work on Saturday mornings to make sure their students were learning the material they needed to succeed. Then they would come home and make sure my sister and I were doing well on our homework. My mom was a 6th grade ELA teacher, so at a young age I learned what it meant to see an essay “bleed” with markups. I was very fortunate to have a great ELA teacher as a mother who taught me how to be a good writer and have a thirst for knowledge. I then became a music teacher for a few years while in college and loved it! After I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I realized that while I enjoyed working with 6-12th graders, I was better suited for working higher education. I have now worked in higher ed, specifically, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) for over eight years now and in each of my roles, recruitment has been a big part of what I do. From recruiting students to going on study abroad opportunities or finding teachers to work during the summer to instruct students in STEM related curriculum, it is something I truly enjoy and continue doing here in my role at Relay.  

What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who is looking to become a teacher?

There is a saying that I remember both of my parents telling me when I was younger that really made sense to me when I started teaching and that was, “Nothing prepares you for the classroom, like being in the classroom.” It is important for people wanting to go into this rewarding profession to know that you’re first few years in the classroom will be a new adventure every day where you will be learning and honing your craft. Expect to have ups and downs with your students and know your teaching style will get better with each lesson you conduct.

Tell us about your passion for recruiting Hispanic/Latinx future teachers.  Can you share your perspective on the importance of having Hispanic/Latinx teachers in the classroom?  What type of impact can this have on students?

Pam Garza

I was very fortunate in having several Hispanic teachers throughout my K-12 education because the area where I grew up, the Hispanic minority, were the majority. Having my teachers speaking with accents like my family, that lived down the street from us or that would also speak Spanish to us, made us feel like they were relatable and cared about us. Many of our students around the country don’t have this opportunity. There are several issues facing the Hispanic community but one of the biggest is the opportunity gap when it comes to education. In 2000, Hispanics, age 25 and older with a high school diploma or more was 52.4 percent, whereas Whites had a percentage of 85.5. This is a huge gap that needs to be addressed if we want to change the lives of Hispanics in the U.S. According to census data, approximately 80 percent of all English Language Learners (ELLs) in the U.S. are Hispanic and the majority of these students were born in the U.S. Growing up, my first language was Spanish since my nanny and grandparents only spoke Spanish. In many Hispanic homes, Spanish is the dominant language in the household. We need to have more bilingual and ELL certified teachers in the classroom to foster student learning in an environment comfortable of ELL students.


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