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Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; phone: (413) 597-4277; e-mail nlemoine@williams.edu

Two Seniors Receive Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color

Media contact:  Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email:Noelle.Lemoine@williams.edu

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 7, 2011 -- Gabriela Hernandez '11 and Oscar Moreno '11 are among the 25 students selected nationally to receive Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color (WW-RBF).

"I was delighted to have two winners this year," said Molly Magavern, the Williams College liaison to the WW-RBF fellowship. "Both Oscar and Gaby have shown an unusual commitment to public education and are already quite experienced in the classroom. Oscar attended inner city schools himself and is passionate about serving as a role model for youth from backgrounds like his.  Gaby knows from personal experience what a difference good teachers and good schools can make, and she wants to make that difference for her future students."

The fellowship awards to each of its recipients a $30,000 stipend to complete a master’s degree in education, as well as preparation to teach in a high-need public school, support throughout a three-year teaching commitment, and guidance toward teaching certification. The 25 recipients were nominated by one of the college and  university partners and chosen through a competitive selection process.

Hernandez, an art history major with a concentration in Africana studies, grew up in San Francisco, Calif., and attended San Francisco University High School.

Upon hearing that Hernandez won the fellowship, Holly Edwards, senior lecturer in art said, "I envy her future students! As a student, [Gabriela] was engaged, smart, and so receptive – a great teacher in the making."

Hernandez said her interest in education began during her time as a Spanish teacher at Breakthrough Collaborative, a national non-profit that recruits high school and college students to teach middle school students. She also spent time working at Breakthrough Collaborative's national offices in the development department.

"This past summer, as I was doing two internships -- one in education and one in the arts -- I realized that I found working with kids more fulfilling," Hernandez said. "I have been very fortunate to get the education I have received, and I want to give back to the community by giving students, especially underprivileged students, the support and opportunities they deserve."

Moreno, a native of Huntington Park, Calif., attended Lynwood High School. He is an American studies major with a specialization in race, ethnicity, and diaspora. He is also completing two concentrations in Africana studies and Latino studies.

"Having had Oscar in several courses during his time at Williams, I will always remember his kindness, intelligence, and his sincere enthusiasm for American and ethnic studies," said Maria Elena Cepeda, associate professor of Latino/a studies. "The news about the fellowship is thrilling, as Oscar certainly possesses the potential to become a noteworthy educator and mentor. He will make a positive difference in many students' lives."

Working with elementary school students in Williamstown, Moreno discovered the importance of interdisciplinary teaching, using models and lectures to keep students engaged. 

"I found a passion for teaching," Moreno said. "I feel revitalized by students' reactions when they get a concept and can articulate their own thoughts and perceptions. I want be part of the important role teachers play in the lives of teenagers; you help shape the future through the work you do with your students."

Established in 1992 by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color were created to help recruit, support, and retain individuals of color as public education teachers and administrators. Since its inception, the program has awarded nearly $8  million in grants and financial assistance to375 families. In January 2009, RBF transferred the program to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

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Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students' educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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