Alumni Spotlight: Brenda Barrio

BarrioBrenda Barrio, Ph.D. graduated in August 2013 with her third degree from UNT's College of Education and immediately began teaching at Washington State University as an assistant professor of special education in the College of Education. We caught up with Brenda to see how her first semester is going and to look back on her experience at UNT.

What kinds of courses are you teaching?
"My teaching provides preparation for pre-service teachers in the general and special education graduate programs in the College of Education. The courses focus on teaching in the inclusive setting as well as overview of special education current topics."

Tell us about your research at WSU.
"Currently my research is focused on pre-service teachers' self-efficacy beliefs about Response to Intervention and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Other areas of research interest include: students with mild to moderate disabilities, culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities and teacher preparation. In service to my Department, College, and the University, I continue to collaborate in initiatives, grants, and projects within and across programs of study."

What was it like to study at UNT?
"My experience at UNT was wonderful as we were part of a community of scholars. I would truly like to thank my Department Chair, Dr. Abbas Tashakkori, my advisor, Dr. Bertina Combes, the wonderful staff in the Educational Psychology Department and my fellow classmates, as they were a great support during my doctoral program."

How did support from scholarships help and inspire you?
"I was very grateful to have been able to receive many scholarships from wonderful donors all years at UNT beginning from my undergraduate program. These scholarships not only reduced the financial stress, but they inspired me to push harder to obtain my degrees in order to "pay" back to the community.

"I am very thankful also that a full scholarship was provided during my doctoral program. Without this wonderful opportunity, I would not have been able to meet my lifelong dream of becoming a professor at an institution of higher education. I am hoping to be able to provide such wonderful opportunities to other students in the future. Thank you to the College of Education and the donors for the many opportunities they provided throughout the years."

What advice would you offer to someone considering a degree in education?
"I would encourage current and future students to continue seeking their goals and dreams, but to also not forget to collaborate and build a community among classmates, faculty, and staff, as it is key to the development of an educator."

What excites you about the future?
"I am most looking forward to continue preparing pre-service teachers to reach their full potential, especially as they teach our students with special needs. I also look forward to enhance the current and future research in the field of special education. Most importantly, I hope to impact students with and without disabilities to improve their quality of life."

Barrio was a first generation college student and earned three degrees from UNT:

  • PhD, Special Education (Mild to Moderate Disabilities), 2013
  • MS, Special Education, 2008
  • BS, ¬†Interdisciplinary Studies (Elementary Education and Special Education), 2007

While at UNT, Barrio was President of the Student Association for Latin Americans and a member of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, Bilingual Education Student Association, Graduate Student Council and Kappa Delta Pi. She is currently an active member of the Council for Exceptional Children and its Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners.