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Project Nueva Generación Celebrates Its First Two Graduates

“You see, I’m a very determined person,” said Elizabeth Pagan. “From Day One, I knew I’d get there.”
In December, the first two certified teachers graduated from Project Nueva Generación, a collaboration between Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Chicago State University. After six-and-a-half years of studying, working full-time, and raising teenagers, Elizabeth Pagan and Maritza Diaz received their bilingual teaching degrees. They are the models for 60 other LSNA parents and the 335 other parents and community leaders across Illinois studying to become teachers through the new "Grow Your Own Teachers" initiative.
Pagan and Diaz will both be bilingual teachers, serving a fast-growing need in Illinois. Their goal is to teach in Logan Square.

NG Graduates

“Parents have what it takes to educate our own children within the community,” said Pagan. “We bring an understanding of the community and the hardships endured, and we can show our children that as Latinos and Latinas we can persevere.”
Project Nueva Generación grew out of the distinctive parent involvement work led by Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Every day in Logan Square schools, hundreds of parents work in classrooms as Parent Mentors; run community learning centers for ESL and GED classes; get active in their Local School Councils; and fight for justice in housing, healthcare and immigration. Now, over 60 more parents in Logan Square are following the lead of Pagan and Diaz and studying to become bilingual teachers.
The community-oriented approach of Chicago State University made Project Nueva Generación a success. Although CSU’s campus is on 95th and Martin Luther King Dr., professors came to Logan Square.
Pagan began her school involvement through LSNA’s Parent Mentor program at Mozart School, where her daughters attended. Through the three years volunteering daily in the classroom, she developed a passion for teaching.

“When I heard about Project Nueva Generación, I jumped at this opportunity of a lifetime,” recalled Pagan. For six-and-a-half years, she went to school at night while working full time at an insurance company and raising her three daughters.
It was a tough journey, made possible by the strong friendships developed with the other students in the Nueva Generación cohort. “We experienced the blessings of new life, and the hardships of death and broken hearts, which makes this accomplishment even more fulfilling,” said Pagan. “Logan Square is my home. I want to teach in my community.”