Faculty member Esperanza De La Vega is this year’s recipient of the PSU President’s Diversity Award for Distinguished Faculty. She was honored at the annual awards ceremony, held on May 25 in the PSU Native American Community Center. She is an associate professor in the Curriculum and Instruction Department and the coordinator of the Bilingual Teacher Pathway (BTP) program. She was recognized for her work envisioning and co-facilitating the creation of a new Dual Language Specialization in the GSE that is added to a teaching license.
De La Vega came to PSU in 2010 after working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for four years. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Oregon University and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught for Salem-Keizer and McMinnville school districts, as well as Berkeley School District in California. De La Vega has published and presented papers on bilingual education and has two major grants for her work with children of color: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Practices for collaborative work with Portland Public Schools (co-principal investigator with Dr. Moti Hara) and the Futures Project, as part of the BTP program.
De La Vega shared the following thoughts: “I recently told a first-year BTP teacher struggling with how to help her students navigate the intersections of race, culture, language, and education that diversity work is not meant to be done in isolation. I acknowledge and share this award with all bilingual teachers and advocates for social justice who work hard to create safe and affirming places for students’ identities in this complex world. Reaching out to others, being authentic, and holding on to hope is always the right thing to do.”
Each year, the PSU President’s Diversity Awards highlight the work of faculty, students, and staff who exemplify the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The GSE’s Yanet Nunez, a rehabilitation specialization student, was also recognized at the event for her work with children from Spanish-speaking families.