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Student Success Story

Student’s Experiences Transform Her Classroom

By Anne Bentzel

Growing up in North Carolina, Elizabeth Auciello, MA Spanish: Latin American Studies ’07, always felt a little out of place. Her parents were immigrants from Argentina. “I felt that I was different from everyone else,” she recalls. “I was embarrassed about my dad's thick accent and the way people mocked him”

But Auciello grew to embrace her family’s culture.  After college, she taught Spanish in a magnet middle school and then moved to Chile to teach English. “After being in Chile for almost two years, I was ready to come back and wanted to continue studying, to master my knowledge of the history and culture of Latin America,” she says.


Finding Direction

She found AU’s MA program in Latin American studies. Being in the program has been “a great experience,” she says. “The faculty are incredibly supportive and have involved me in some great research opportunities.” Auciello helped Professor Ana Serra edit a book on Cuban culture during the Revolution.

While in the program, Auciello spent time in Argentina researching the country’s educational system. “Argentina has a free education system,” she explains. “Over the years it has deteriorated from its position as one of the most excellent systems in all of Latin America to one of the most failed—due mostly to lack of funding. I am investigating what the government is doing to improve it.”


Bringing Experiences to Her Classroom

Since earning her master’s, Auciello has settled back into teaching: “Teaching is my passion, and this is a crucial time—immigration issues, stereotypes, and clashing cultures are issues at stake in many of our schools. I want to be there to help students appreciate what’s great about Latin American culture.”