From her formative years in Buenos Aires to pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle, Patricia Ferreyra has combined her passion for both music and education to build bridges between cultures.
As a high school student, Ferreyra’s love for the guitar introduced her to teaching, as she tutored peers in both guitar and English.
“I believe teaching was a natural choice for me,” she said. “I had a good experience at school and with my teachers. I loved going to school and I believe that experience influenced my interest in education.”
As a first-generation college student, Ferreyra said her high school teachers played an important role in supporting her pursuit of a college education. Her English teachers encouraged her interest in exploring teaching or translation, and after earning a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Ferreyra started her teaching career as a teacher of English. A few years later, she also became interested in teaching Spanish.
In the late 1990s, captivated by the free-spirited nature of Seattle’s music culture, Ferreyra found herself drawn to the Pacific Northwest.
“I was in my late 20s and inspired by the Seattle music scene,” Ferreyra said. “I identified with the culture, spirit and angst embodied in that music. That’s what brought me to this part of the country. You could say I was encouraged by my cultural and artistic drive.”
Upon arriving in Seattle, Ferreyra began teaching English and Spanish once again, and she completed a master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language to fully devote herself to the teaching of Spanish. Through her years teaching, she discovered she not only wanted to further her education, but also to make personal and professional connections.
“If I was pursuing a master’s to become more competent, I would have stopped after getting my online degree. I was looking for fulfillment from the university classroom experience.”
Right after moving to Seattle, she visited the University of Washington. However, it took almost ten years for her to start her journey at the College of Education in pursuit of her second master’s degree.
“I had been teaching since 1995 and it took me a long time to go back. Once I knew what my next step was going to be, I knew that it would be in education. I wanted to grow both personally and professionally, so I went back.”
After completing her master’s in education in 2015 from the College of Education, Ferreyra knew that she would be returning to UW. As a first-year PhD student in the language, literacy and culture program, she is currently being challenged to choose focus areas for her research. As she makes these decisions, she has been supported by peers and mentors at the College of Education.
In the future, Ferreyra hopes to be involved in research leading to a better understanding of bilingualism and multiculturalism, both central to her life and professional experience. She believes that honoring the cultural and linguistic practices of all students is key to intercultural understanding.
“I think of myself as a bridge because of my interest in language and intercultural connections,” Ferreyra said. “I ask myself, ‘What is my personal struggle in making those cultural connections?’ I can view my experiences subjectively, but through my research I can begin to understand why they are happening.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications