Vanessa Almaraz: Thoughts on the Pathway

My name is Vanessa Almaraz, and I am the Admissions Coordinator here at TAMIU. I just started in the summer, and it’s been a great opportunity working at TAMIU. I’ve been here for so long that I know the ins and outs of the university. It’s great to get to know everybody and work together.


As an Admissions Coordinator, I play a crucial role in helping students take their first steps toward joining the program. What I’ve noticed, especially with the application packet, is that we have several requirements for education majors. Many students assume that once they indicate their intention to be an Early Learning or Bilingual major on their application, they are automatically in the education program. However, there is a process to get there, and sometimes students might be missing a requirement. This can be challenging, but we work hard to support these students.


I don’t want to discourage anyone by saying they are pending a class or not core complete. Instead, I assure them that we will get them in, even if it might be for the following semester. This extra time can help them improve their GPA or take other necessary classes for their program. One of the main challenges is telling students they are missing something, but we must follow TEA rules and policies.


Communication skills are essential. I used to be an adjunct at TAMIU and always emphasized in my syllabus that communication is key. If I don’t know what’s going on, how can anyone else? I encourage students to come to our office for help. As a teacher, communication is crucial, whether it’s managing classroom behavior or teaching students effectively. My first year of teaching taught me the importance of different techniques for talking to students and working with them.


When I started this past summer, I was placed as the co-advisor to TAFE. I saw tremendous growth in just the first week. We took students to a national conference in Washington, DC. It was TAMIU’s first time advancing from state to nationals, and the students were nervous and unsure. Seeing them become national champions was an incredible experience. Their excitement and realization that they could succeed was a proud moment. Being part of TAFE gives students responsibility and experience in becoming teachers, learning how to do lesson plans, and more.


I’m a big advocate for community service and helping the community in any way possible. We offer different options for those interested in becoming teacher aides or substitute teachers. These roles provide firsthand classroom experience. I was a substitute and a teacher aide before becoming a teacher. Being a substitute allows you to see teachers’ lesson plans and try to follow them. As a teacher aide, I worked in elementary schools, which led me to pursue a degree in education after initially studying a different field. This hands-on experience was invaluable.

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