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Graduate student finds success by being the exception

In 2020, Nahari Leija, earned a bachelor’s degree in bilingual education and was hired as a third grade bilingual teacher for the 2020-21. Because of Covid and the hybrid setting of the school, it was challenging. The experience made her realize she needed to learn more about hybrid and online learning to better serve her students.

Leija enrolled at Boise State University to obtain her master’s degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) in the fall of 2021. She will receive her degree in May of 2023 and has sights set on the future and better teaching her students in times of hybrid learning.

“Although I considered many universities, I chose Boise State because the OPWL courses focused on adult learning and completing real workplace projects for real clients,” Leija said. “I was offered a research assistantship in my first year, which I was really excited to accept in my very first semester of study.”

During the summer of 2022, Leija accepted an instructional design internship with Minitab, which was extended into this spring semester. In her time, she applied the knowledge and skills she learned in the program and gained valuable experience in the workplace.

At the same time, Leija also received an offer from OPWL for a full-time assistantship and served as a Graduate Assistant for OPWL’s Seth Martinez to assist on research projects in the Learning Strategy Lab. In the lab, Leija supported Martinez’s research on servant leadership and presented their research at the annual conference of the Academy of Human Resource Development in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Leija resides in the U.S. border town of Brownsville, TX, and is one of eight children. Leija’s family is split evenly between the U.S. and Mexico.

“All my life I have been crossing back and forth to visit family and friends,” Leija said. “I did not speak English fluently until I was in the fourth grade. I am so proud to be part of the five percent of Latinos with a graduate degree. The opportunity to grow and stretch in the OPWL program has been so valuable to my success today and for tomorrow.”

by Jamie Fink