Carmen Higueros Imagine you’re 8 years old. Last night your mom was running late for her second job, so she didn’t have time to prepare dinner. And this morning you skipped breakfast because it’s the end of the month and the food has run out. At school, hunger pangs make it difficult for you concentrate on the math lesson your teacher is explaining. You act up in class, so she sends you to the principal’s office for the fifth time this year. No one understands why you’re such a poor student. Not every child comes to school ready to learn. That is perhaps the most valuable lesson Carmen Higueros, 33, has acquired through Hamline’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, she said. Higueros began the program with a concentration in English as a second language in 2009 after her sister, Maria Higueros-Canny, recommended it to her. Both have completed the Initial Licensure Program and are working toward their master’s degrees. Mirroring Success At Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School in Brooklyn Center, where Higueros teaches ESL, upwards of 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch based on need. Many are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. “A lot of these kids are coming from incredibly difficult situations,” Higueros said. “Maybe they came from a refugee camp in Sudan or Thailand. So not only is it amazing to see how resilient they are, but that they are such sweet, hard-working, and amazing kids makes me feel so lucky to be a part of their education and daily lives.” Higueros chose an ESL concentration partly because she herself is bicultural (her father is from Guatemala) and she speaks Spanish. “I felt like I would have maybe a better understanding of the ESL kids and I would have more to give them,” she said. She encourages her students to take pride in their cultural heritage and tries to serve as a role model for them. “It’s hard when you’re not seeing yourself in the kind of people you aspire to be,” Higueros said. “I’m one of a few teachers of color at our school, and I like being a mirror for some of these kids.” Professors That ‘Get It’ Higueros believes she’s making a difference in her students’ lives, she said, thanks in part to the education she’s receiving at Hamline. “So many of the teachers I’ve had for my general education classes have had such valuable, real-life experience and advice,” Higueros said. “They just get it.” She also appreciates the MAT program’s flexibility, allowing her to work during the day and take evening or weekend classes at either the Saint Paul or Minneapolis campus. Why go to Hamline for your master’s in teaching? For Higueros, the answer is simple: quality, convenience, and hands-on experience. “I’ve actually told people: ‘Just go to Hamline! It’s so much better!’” she said.