On May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We reached out to a few of our students who are graduating from programs in the School of Education to learn about their favorite UW–Madison memories and future plans. Following is a Q&A with Jackie Barrera-Gonzalez, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?
I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. In middle school I was accepted into the PEOPLE Program, which is a college access program that offered me the opportunity to attend UW–Madison and provided me the support and services needed to be academically successful.
What is your major, and how did you choose it?
I’m studying elementary education with a focus on ESL. Ever since I was in first grade, I have wanted to become a teacher and go back and teach at the elementary school I attended, Nuestro Mundo Community School.
Throughout middle school and high school, I did whatever I could to stay connected to the school in hopes of one day getting the opportunity to go back and teach there. As someone who got to receive a bilingual K-12 education, throughout the years I developed a passion for language acquisition and bilingual education.
My most meaningful experience at UW–Madison was becoming a sxster of the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. As a first-generation, Latina who grew up in diverse school environments, coming to UW–Madison was a huge change to what I had been used to.
Becoming a member of Kappa Delta Chi helped campus feel a lot smaller and allowed me to surround myself around ambitious womxn that looked like me. Kappa Delta Chi also helped me grow academically, professionally, and pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. In addition, I have developed lifelong relationships with people who continuously inspire me and push me to be the best version of myself.
"Ever since I was in first grade, I have wanted to become a teacher and go back and teach at the elementary school I attended, Nuestro Mundo Community School."
What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?
Dr. (Steve) Quintana, chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology, taught the Race and the Developing Child course I took my first year, and it was one of the most relevant and engaging courses I have ever taken. Dr. Quintana is kind and easy going, and was always interested in building relationships with his students. Even after taking his course, I continued to stay in touch with him, and he was always willing to make time to check in.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
My advice to incoming students is put yourself out there! Visit different org fairs, walk over to the Terrace, talk to the people in your classes, and step out of your comfort zone.
College is a unique and overwhelming experience, but it feels that way for everyone. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and find the organization, friends, or community that is right for you!
What’s next for you? What are your plans for the future?
I am currently student teaching in a fourth-grade classroom at the elementary school I attended, Nuestro Mundo Community School, and have started the application process to teach in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
The dream has always been to return to Nuestro Mundo and teach there, so if I was offered the opportunity to do so, I would accept in a heartbeat!
What is your favorite “hidden gem” on campus or in Madison?
My favorite place on campus is the Wisconsin Energy Institute Building!