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Meet OPWL student Nahari Leija

Nahari Leija

My name is Nahari Leija, and I am from Brownsville, Texas. I have a bachelor’s degree in bilingual education. During my undergraduate career, I was a tutor at my local community college. When I graduated, I got hired as a 3rd grade bilingual teacher for the 2020-2021 school year in a hybrid setting. Since the 2020-2021 school year was difficult due to COVID, I knew that this year would also be difficult since the students wouldn’t be on grade level. Hence, I decided to quit my job and go to school full time.

During my time as a tutor, I learned about instructional design through a co-worker who was doing his masters in educational technology at the time. I was immediately intrigued and decided to take some instructional design courses offered by my local university. However, what convinced me to make a career change was a professional development meeting during my time as a teacher. The technology coordinator for the school district gave first year teachers a training on how to use Nearpod, Peardeck, and Jamboard. After the training, he began to explain his job and then I realized I wanted his job. Now, through Boise State, I am pursuing my OPWL master’s.

Although I considered many universities, I chose Boise State because the OPWL courses focus on adult learning and completing real workplace projects for real clients, and the university courses in my home state mainly focus on e-learning in a classroom setting.

One of my educational goals is to obtain research experience and “OPWL faculty members are involved in various research and development (R&D) activities,” (see OPWL research labs). Fortunately, I was offered a research opportunity this school year, and I am really excited to gain research experience in a higher education setting.

During my time at OPWL, I am looking forward to participating in research and to expand my knowledge beyond K-12 pedagogy. Although I was a research assistant during my undergraduate career, I only got to participate in the start of a research project since COVID happened. Therefore, I am excited to learn about the research process in higher education. Additionally, I am looking forward to learning about adult learning. When I was a tutor, I got to work with a lot of non-traditional students. One of my students was a 70-year-old man, and he needed help with his Spanish class. However, in addition to needing help with the course, he needed help learning how to use Canvas and PowerPoint. Even though it was hard for him, I was amazed by his determination to learn how to use technology. Therefore, I want to learn how to help students of all ages and find ways to facilitate their learning experience.

On a more personal note, I am 22 years old and I live in a border town. Most of my family is in Mexico, hence all my life I have been crossing back and forth. For instance, I have 7 siblings, four of them live in Mexico and three live in Brownsville. In addition to having tons of siblings, I am a dog mom of three little ones. I have a Chihuahua mix, a Shih Tzu, and a Mexican hairless dog. Similarly, to my dogs, I am also bilingual. I mainly talk to my dogs in Spanish because my first language is Spanish, and I did not speak English fluently until the 4th grade. I am looking forward to my time at Boise State and eventually becoming part of the 5% of Latinos with a graduate degree!

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About the OPWL Program

The Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) program helps prepare students for careers in the areas of instructional design, training and development, e-learning, workplace performance improvement, organizational development, program evaluation and performance consulting.

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