Diego Zaragoza is an experienced Spanish Interpreter with a demonstrated history of working in the alternative medicine industry. He is currently working as a Program Coordinator at The Center for mind-Body Medicine. He is also an education professional working towards a Master of Arts – MA focused in English/Language Arts Teacher Education from University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.
I am amazed I did not pursue an English degree sooner in my academic career. My bachelor’s degree is in Political Sciences, and I initially wanted to go into law school with the intent of teaching law as opposed to practicing it. During the transition phase, after getting my BA, I lost interest in law and started thinking about other areas which could help me achieve my goal of teaching. That’s when I reached out to some faculty members from the English department whom I had met during my bachelor’s such as Nancy Vicente and Raymond Knight and they recommended that I pursue a Master of Arts in English Education (MAEE). I always had a love for all things literature, so this seemed like the best decision and time has not proven me wrong.
My experience with the English department faculty has been outstanding. I think every single individual who has been part of my development during the Master’s program has impacted me and pushed me to strive for more as I continued to learn and grow within this field. I would not be the person I am today, personally or academically, if I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting professors like Mary Sefranek, Nancy Vicente, Ellen Pratt, Rosa Roman, Nandita Batra, Ricia Chansky, Nick Haydock, Jose Irizarry, Eric Lamore and Gabriel Romaguera. They are all great professors, and I will cherish everything they have done for me forever.
One of the most rewarding experiences from my academic career has been working as a Graduate Student Representative. It allowed me to use everything I had learned as member of the Student Council back when I was an undergrad, and apply it to a different, somewhat more complex environment. I was also able to present a paper on the Popular Culture Association’s 2019 Conference and had an article recently published on the In Media Res website. Both experiences were very meaningful for me, since before arriving to the English department I did not have the courage to apply to these types of opportunities. I also formed part of a group of Master’s students who started to interpret for The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a non-profit organization from Washington DC that started to offer training services in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. I continued to offer my help to this organization and am currently working for them as a Program Coordinator.
From these experiences, I learned to believe in myself, to dare do the things I might not have tried to do before or did not feel I could achieve. I also learned that its important to have good friends. A lot of the experiences and accomplishments I mentioned would not have been as great as they were if I didn’t have the wonderful friends that I have, which I met here at the Master’s program.
Right now, I am focusing on my current position with CMBM, but at some point, I would love to start a PhD and eventually maybe get back to teaching at the university level. I try not to think too much on the future because if there’s one thing I have learned is that things change in an instant and whatever plans you had laid out can change completely in the blink of an eye. I had never imagined I would end up working for a non-profit organization, and here I am today, loving every minute of it and it would not have happened if I had chosen to pursue a different degree to the Masters of Arts in English Education.