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Meet Educator Estela Zarate

Education Researcher Focuses on Helping Latino Students Succeed in School

Nov. 15, 2013

Estela Zarate, who joined CSUF this fall as an associate professor of educational leadership, knows firsthand the benefits of equitable access to higher education.

Born in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico, her parents immigrated to Houston when she was a toddler. As a young bilingual student, Zarate credits her teachers and mentors for inspiring and motivating her to pursue her educational goals.

As an undergraduate at Rice University — where she earned her bachelor's degree in mathematical economic analysis and policy studies — Zarate was an outreach volunteer. She later became an admissions counselor at Carleton College in Minnesota, where she instituted a National Hispanic Scholar Program and coordinated efforts to recruit Latino students.

These early experiences to help others of color reach their dream of a college education fueled her drive to become an educator, like her mother and five of her father's siblings in Mexico.

Zarate, who earned her Ph.D. in education from UCLA and is the first in her family to earn a doctorate, focuses her research on understanding the schooling experiences and pathways for Latino immigrant students.

"I ask what conditions in school and community allow students to be successful in school," said Zarate. "My research has often pointed out the ways that our educational institutions and policies place barriers for immigrant and/or poor students. I credit my own positive experiences in school as a English-language learner with the origins of this interest."

Before coming to CSUF, Zarate taught at UC Irvine and served as director of educational policy research at USC's Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.

The Los Angeles resident is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. This fall, she is teaching a course on research methods and research seminars for doctoral and master's candidates.

"In teaching school leaders, I have the potential to influence generations of students. To be able to influence schools and the education of others is an amazing opportunity — a privilege, and a daunting responsibility."

Tags:  Academics & Research