The Education of Jackie Aguilera

She considers herself one of the other originals as a third-generation Houston resident. She grew up on the North Side (now near the North Side) and the second parish of the East End.

A graduate of Houston University in downtown Jackie Aguilera believes that raising a foster family has prepared her for her destiny. She praises her grandparents who were champions in education.

“They (grandparents) were self-educated and determined self-taught, who always knew that education was the key,” she said. Raised by a single mother, Aguilera also believes that her mother and uncle inspired her to fight for their beliefs. «

My mother and uncle grew up in the 50s and 60s. My uncle was going to stand up for red and white and blue through military service, and my mother was going to stand up for red and white and blue with flowers in her hair, protesting against the controversial war, ”she said, laughing at their differences. overall goal. “But I knew that because of them it is so important to fight, stand and stick to your beliefs to do what is right and also to be part of the fabric of this country.”

There were times when Aguilera felt the pressure of multicultural “juggling” that mixed the ethnic backgrounds of her grandparents (from Mexico and the Basques) and her father (from Puerto Rico) and was a second-generation American in Texas. In addition to her cultural identification of problems, she was also a lesbian who was born into a very strict and religious family, which was another act of juggling.

“My family was born at a time when assimilation was the impetus … what many called the laundering of cultures in America … the transfusion into a common identity called American. For many, it was a way to succeed, ”said the eldest of the three. “It also meant your sexual identity. Compliance was the norm for everything. I was responsible in almost every way, except when it came to lesbians. I found my rainbow pride and my brown pride in UHD, a place where I also didn’t have to be shy. I was born here and consider myself a Chican or American of Mexican descent. And I’m proud. How great is that? ”

The choice of UHD gave Aguilera a new look.

“The UHD was huge for me,” she said. “When you are the first generation, you are in survival mode and your family is doing their best to help you navigate the system. The UHD gave me a second chance to start my education. ”

Aguilera’s time as Gator exposed to her “so much diversity, multiculturalism and above all a sense of pride. You shouldn’t have been two different people, ”she said. “You’ve all been to UHD!”

At UHD, she worked as an English teacher and, ultimately, a college success teacher with first-generation students from other countries who were marked at risk, in reading / writing and preparing for exams to succeed. “The opportunity to help students gain the necessary skills and see how they are achieving and succeeding in their studies … has really fueled and ignited me,” she said. In 1989, she received a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a degree in English and Juvenile Sociology from UHD.

After UHD, she worked briefly in retail and then took a position at the Houston Public College of Adult Education, leading to the Houston Reading Commission in response to what was known as the “urban literacy crisis”. In the Commission, she led many literacy initiatives, wore many hats, and founded the Financial Literacy Carnival, an initiative picked up by McGraw Hill, which became a state-funded financial education project.

“Everything I’ve been through during and after UHD has told me that I’m destined for education and that I can run but can’t hide,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a part of the process. It’s been a community effort to raise me, and when that happens, you always have to give. ”

Aguilera earned a master’s degree in cultural studies from the Christian Christian University, and her involvement in literacy studies initiatives has never diminished. In 2008, Aguilera co-founded Houston Money Week, a citywide financial empowerment initiative. Later, she also worked on a project to implement the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas’ English @ Work Program. In 2018, she helped organize a collective network of adult literacy providers in Houston and Adult Literacy Study Partners in Houston, an award-winning team of providers piloting new programs for adult learners. She spent several years in the third department of Houston, working at the Mass School of Adult Literacy, East Side University, where she served as president for nearly three years.

She recently landed at the City Hall on Adult Literacy as a project manager to promote projects that will optimize adult literacy service models in Houston, including the Houston Adult Literacy Plan, developed in partnership with the Barbara Bush X Literacy Foundation. ‘Justan, which was launched in the past. June.

“We are working on politics and advocacy, and I am working with many adult literacy providers that affect thousands of adults and their families across the city,” she said. “We achieve phenomenal things that bring more benefits than I ever imagined. It’s humiliating. Being part of positive change is what my lifelong work should be like. ”

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