What is pride? As a teacher, I have been proud of my students. This has occurred in many instances. Whether they faced their fear of public speaking, achieved a long-sought goal, or graduated from high school or college- a feeling overcomes me. I was proud when my son was admitted to college. I was proud when my husband walked on the stage to receive his M.B.A. An immense pride filled my heart when my mother completed her book of poetry. What is pride? What is joy? How do these emotions differ from happiness and admiration?

This question came to my mind when I began to write about about Dr. Colón-Muñiz being recognized for her contributions to the field of multicultural education. While I adore Dr. Anaida Colón-Muñiz for her personal and professional attributes, I also sensed a deeply-rooted feeling of Puerto Rican pride– a heritage she and I share. It wells up inside me– this sense of admiration, respect, happiness, and love.

My life and Anaida’s have had particularly interesting trajectories. Unknowingly, I have followed her. From the University of Massachusetts, where we both met Dr. Sonia Nieto (the colleague who nominated her for this award), to our work in Santa Ana Unified School District, and now, to our current student/advisor relationship at Chapman University- my life has followed her path. As I journey through the PhD program, she demonstrates a heartfelt passion for guiding me to the light. She is uncompromising in her approach; she knows my path unlike any other because she has walked it. It is a difficult path that requires a unique mixture of advocacy, compassion, and strength. It calls upon a historical memory to clearly articulate the perpetual cycle of the marginalization of “others.” In many instances, it requires one to walk into a firestorm with nothing more than ideals and compassion as weapons. I wonder if I can continue to follow her into this place.

Reading about her NAME award, my heart is filled with a warm mixture of love, respect, and admiration. Anaida, as a student, colleague, friend and Boricua, I am glad your work has been publicly recognized. Is that pride? I believe it is.

By Marisol Rexach, Ph.D. in Education Student