Ana Lopez, a doctoral student in the Special Education and Communication Disorders department in New Mexico State University’s College of Education, will attend a prestigious leadership conference Oct. 27-28 in San Antonio alongside her mentor, SPED/CD professor Loretta Salas.
The Collaborative Educational Programs for the Americas Consortium is hosting the annual leadership conference with the theme, “Leadership: Growing the next generation of global partners.” Lopez and Salas were invited to submit a proposal to attend.
Lopez, who received her bachelor’s degree in education from Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez), is enrolled in the NMSU College of Education’s Special Education doctoral program with a concentration in bilingual/multicultural special education. While studying in Juarez, she worked with visually impaired students and their families, which inspired her research in multicultural special education and how it intersects with families along the U.S./Mexico border.
“I’m interested in topics related to the border and special education issues involving families,” Lopez said. “When I worked with families with kids with visual impairments in my undergraduate program in Mexico, I started seeing all the needs these people had, and the anxiety of the parents, especially those in the working class or who live in poverty.”
At the CEPA conference, Lopez and Salas will present their research on the resilience of Mexican mothers of children with disabilities, and the challenges and obstacles they face during their search for a better life and education for their children.
“It’s no coincidence to me that these families and these mothers want to come across the border to get services for their kids,” Salas said. “They want their kids to have a chance and have an opportunity.”
Lopez graduated from NMSU with a master’s degree in special education in May, but decided to pursue her doctoral degree from NMSU to continue her work with Salas. After graduating from Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez two years ago, Lopez visited NMSU knowing only that she wanted to pursue her studies in special education, but wasn’t sure what direction she wanted to take. After meeting with Salas and other faculty members, Lopez knew she wanted to attend NMSU.
“I didn’t have to think about it,” Lopez said. “I saw the research and what was available to me, the opportunities here. It was a good fit for me.”