Maria de Lourdes Viloria: Introduction

My name is Maria, Lourdes Viloria. I’m also a first generation college students. I am the oldest of six siblings. So I was considered as a pioneer in my family because I set the stage so that all my brothers and sisters were able to also have access to college and matriculation and completion of six of us either completed or bachelors degree at the University of Texas at Austin. So know, can you imagine my first when I first left home, my father was very hesitant to let me go. I was he didn’t want to let me go. He’s like, You know, if you find the financial assistance, if you admit admitted, then you can go. So I did both. I remember coming to the kitchen and say, Please sign here, I’m leaving. And he’s like, OK, I’m not going to pay for anything. You know that we cannot pay for anything. That’s what he told me, and I said, That’s fine. I have found a way to go, and I just need you to take me. So on our first trip to Austin, when he was going to drop me off at the dorm, all my brothers and sisters, we had a van and everybody was with me. Everybody made the trip. Everybody said goodbye. And I remember my my goodbyes when my father and he was like, you know, he had a Spanish, you know , he told me, like, you wanted to come here because I started crying. You said you wanted to come here and now you’re going to, you know, stick it up like, you know. But he said, you know, a bad word, like a word in Spanish. And so, you know, I didn’t have a choice, but I had to stay right. But that’s I think that began my journey in education, and I consider myself a mentor to many a social agent. I like to have a lot of conversations with those that are also first generation college students. And because of that, I I continued, I finish my degree at UT, then came back to Laredo and began my work as a pro bono legal assistant. At the same time, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to have enough income to make it right, so I looked for something else. So I ended up becoming an alternative certification teacher. You know, I started my my education career here at Laredo State University, and I was part of the first cohort that was in the alternative certification program that now Texas A&M International has, right? So I did graduate. I started teaching right away. I started teaching in Laredo, Ice-T in 1989 and I and I I I was a second grade teacher in Laredo, Ice-T, and I continued working as a pro-bono coordinator, working with the elderly, getting them their wills and testaments, you know, just making connections with attorneys general so that those that you know, especially the elderly folks here in Laredo were able to have access to legal advice for free. I still maintain those connections with the attorneys general, which is, you know, it’s great because Laredo is a dynamic growing city, but there’s a lot of connections that you make when you grow here. And those are, you know, it really doesn’t. You don’t detach like whenever you come across to someone that has been part of your life, you just pick up where you left off. And that’s the beauty of our city. You know, it is a beautiful culture and in terms of the connections that that those that have roots here have made and continue to to keep Norwich. So after I start my, my husband and I, we got I got married in 1992 and so I made my trip to San Antonio like we moved to San Antonio to start fresh there and my husband is from Venezuela. He and I met in Austin. He was very persistent. I actually didn’t really want to marry him at the beginning, but he persisted, right? So we ended up getting married in 1982 and went to San Antonio, bought our house there and had our son. I only have one son and his name is Mabley, like, amiable. He’s actually, um, I believe the fifth. And so we we made our, you know, our a great life there in San Antonio. I was a pre-kindergarten teacher in San Antonio. San Antonio is still looking for more and more opportunities. After three years of being in San Antonio, we moved to Dallas Public Schools in Dallas public schools that continue to be a pre-K teacher. I had I was very fortunate to do my. By that time, I was already enrolled in the Laredo State University in my master’s program for the Education Administration. I did my practicum in Dallas Public Schools in a very mixed community, but social, low socio economic community in Dallas and Oak Cliff. That’s what is called that was being gentrified is it changed. A lot has changed a lot right now, but that’s where I started. I became very active with the community there. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Ernie Cortez, an interfaith or community organizing. And so I became the representative for a community organization and community organizing is called interfaith and I had in my undergraduate years. I had already been involved with Ernie Curtis as a as an organizer doing voter voter registration in East Austin. I also had a wonderful mentor who was the Lord is worth the and I know you know her her. She I was able to be her interned for a whole semester without while I will send you to Austin. And that’s kind of like what got me very motivated into helping others, helping my community and giving back so had wonderful opportunities, wonderful mentors in Dallas. I did a lot of just not not like leading the community, but more conversations with the community, the parents. You know how we could make the school better, how we could get them more involved. Immigrant parents, of course, navigating the system. You know, so and through my work and my practicum work, I also was very close with the school principal. They didn’t have an assistant principal. So I was kind of like the go the go to person. So it was a wonderful experience to be able to do that. Alyssa was the teacher of the year, you know, for four in my school, in my, in my twenties, in my school. So. I, you know, accolades are great, but for me, what’s more endearing is just having that connection with the community.

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