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Student sitting at desk smiles as she speaks with another person.

LESSONS LEARNED: Carolina Aquiar works in her office with Robyn Dawson, director of the Western Arkansas ERZ.

Bell Tower Magazine | Health Education and Human Sciences | BT-CurrentOctober 20, 2022

Daughter Finds Teachable Moment - For Mom

Sometimes the lessons we teach our children are the lessons we most need to learn. At least it happened that way for Carolina Aguiar. 

Carolina, who completed the Spradling-Kimmons-Northside education route in 2009, started at UAFS right after high school as a business major.

“When we are fresh out of high school, we are so worried about the parties; our priorities aren’t set right,” she said. She dropped out of college.

For a few years, she concentrated on raising her children and working at a preschool. Along the way, she realized she had a passion for working with children. She didn’t have the confidence to return to college because she believed she had an insurmountable hurdle: Macro Economics.

Then, the lesson. Carolina’s 10-year-old daughter, Naomi, was eligible to participate in a district-wide spelling bee.

“She just didn’t want to do it,” her mom explained. “She didn’t like to speak in public. We talked about it for a long time. I told her she needed to face her fears. I am all about urging my kids to be the best version of themselves.”

It turns out Naomi was sure her mother needed to be the best version of herself, too.

“She looked at me and said, ‘OK, mom. I’ll face my fears and go to the spelling bee, but you have to face your fears and go back to college.’  So that afternoon, she and I drove to the admissions office to see what I had to do to be readmitted,” she said.

The road wasn’t without bumps, but Carolina handled them one at a time. She left her job because she didn’t think she could manage work, school, and motherhood. In spring 2022, she took six courses, ending with four As and two Bs. One of those Bs was for Macro Economics. 

“Passing that economics class gave me so much confidence,” Carolina said. “Then I knew I could do it all.”

She did some substitute teaching and discovered she had a knack for middle school students – not a skill set everyone has. 

Carolina is now working on campus for Robyn Dawson, director of the Western Arkansas ERZ (Educational Renewal Zone). She said this is one way she can “work and graduate from college.”

But college graduation may not be her end game. If her financial aid “works out,” she said, she wants to stay at UAFS to join the MEd (Master of Education) program.

A journey that started with her daughter left her thinking of her mother. 

“My mother sacrificed her entire life just to make mine better,” she said. “I just want to make her and my children proud.”