• IDRA Newsletter • August 2015 •
This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. At IDRA, Dr. Nilka Avilés leads teacher professional development in science education particularly serving English language learners, and in strengthening college access and readiness for underserved and underrepresented students. She also directs IDRA’s new School TurnAround and Reenergizing for Success Leaders project. Before joining IDRA, Dr. Avilés directed the Early College High School initiative at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a native Puerto Rican and is the first-born daughter of Adolfo and Hilda Avilés, who were educators, principals and executive directors at the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. Her father also was city council manager for many years, and after he retired from the Department of Education, he became the vice-mayor of Nilka’s hometown Guaynabo. Her mother was her first grade teacher when Nilka was 4 years old. Nilka matriculated at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus and completed her first semester of her freshmen year at the age of 16. She became a secondary science teacher at the age of 20 and taught at the high school from which she graduated in Guaynabo.
Nilka loves the outdoors. She was a Girl Scout for many years. Her camping skills and experiences were so profound that she has owned travel trailers and goes camping during her spare time. She also loves to dance, especially her salsa and merengue music, even though now she enjoys dancing polkas and country western music. Being raised in la “Isla del Encanto” (Island of Enchantment), Nilka loves the beach, and whenever possible, she goes on vacation back to the beach in Puerto Rico, to Cancún or to the Florida Emerald Coast. Nilka also enjoys travelling to discover the world. While in college along with 95 students and eight professors, she visited Greece, Italy, France, Spain and England during a 45-day trip. She also traveled to Antigua, Martinique, St. John, St. Thomas, Curacao, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago, Columbia, Venezuela, Panama, and San Andrés.
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[©2015, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the August 2015 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]