At the close of fall semester 2022, Graduate School of Education (GSE) Dean José Luís Alvarado, Ph.D., and Curriculum and Teaching (C&T) division chair and associate professor Aída Nevárez-La Torre, Ed.D., gathered with a unique group of students in both the Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) and the Ph.D. in Innovation in Curriculum and Instruction (ICI) programs, all of whom have roots in the Dominican Republic. The reception was a way to share with these students that there is an increasing number of Dominican students at GSE, both in the ICI and M.S.E. programs, and that GSE wants to make an impact for students in the education field in both New York and the Dominican Republic.
During the gathering, the students spoke about how education is valued in their families and their different pathways into the education field. Dean Alvarado also shared his story with the students, noting their mutual experiences of working hard to become educators and learning how to impact the world through education.
According to Nevárez-La Torre, the M.S.E. program “often attracts international students who will benefit from having a master’s degree.” The most recent cohort of four Dominican Republic students started their studies at GSE in the spring 2022 semester. Nevárez-La Torre noted, “This is not particularly surprising, since there has been collaboration between Fordham and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Education over the last several years.” At Fordham, Anthony R. Davidson, Ph.D., Dean of the Fordham School of Professional Studies, is the main point of contact for this collaboration.
In recent years, the Dominican Republic has instituted a policy that requires every student to learn English and become bilingual, an important step in strengthening the relationship between the Dominican Republic and the United States. In addition, the Dominican Republic is revamping its school curriculum to focus on STEAM and STEM education, an effort they’re working on with Fordham and other United States universities. As part of the focus on this goal, the Ministry of Education offers scholarships to students in the Dominican Republic who are willing to come to the United States and get advanced degrees in many different fields.
At the GSE, the Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) program offers an open-ended curriculum with a total of 30 credits; 12 credits are required, and 18 credits are elective. Students have the opportunity to explore best pedagogical practices in early childhood, childhood, and special education and to study how best to promote learning in high schools and through multilingual education. They can also take courses in the ICI Ph.D. program and in other particular areas of interest, such as school administration, psychology, and counseling.
Nevárez-La Torre emphasized that she “wants to make sure Fordham becomes even better known in the Dominican Republic.” She adds, “When these students obtain master’s degrees with us, it enhances their language and literacy skills and exposes them to current theories and pedagogy. It gives them the opportunity to learn the best and most contemporary methods of teaching to implement and model when educating students in the island’s schools.”
Dean Alvarado and Nevárez-La Torre want to explore ways of expanding upon all of the work Fordham is doing to strengthen the relationship with the Dominican Republic, with the goal of making GSE’s programs more global. For GSE, this is the beginning of a conversation that will have implications for the near future and beyond as the school continues working to increase its international visibility.