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Amalia Dache becomes the first Latina tenured Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Photo: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Amalia Dache becomes the first Latina tenured Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Photo: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

UPenn Graduate School of Education has its first Latina tenured associate professor

Amalia Dache is changing the face of higher education.

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With a continuous need for more diversity in higher education, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education has appointed Amalia Dache an Associate Professor. 

With the designation, she becomes the first tenured Latina professor at UPenn’s Graduate School of Education. 

Dache is an Afro-Cuban American scholar, who has focused her research primarily on how racial and economic factors impact local postsecondary education, and access to college for diverse students. 

“I am officially an Associate Professor at the number one school of education in the United States! Based on the available data, I am the first tenured and promoted Latina professor in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s 107-year history,” she wrote across her social media platforms. 

Dache, a New York native, first spoke to AL DÍA News about the diversity gap among public school teachers she experienced growing up. 

“I grew-up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York in a working-class Black and Latino neighborhood of Rochester, and was very under-resourced as far as income and educational resources,” Dache said.

The need for more diversity in higher education is an ever-present issue Dache said fueled her desire to continue her education. 

“Starting grad school I learned that Latinas were approximately .003% of doctoral degree holders in the United States,” she said.”Learning this statistic and living through my family’s history fueled me not only toward roads untraveled, it fueled me to surpass every educational milestone.” 

As a Afro-Cuban American, Dache also recognized not only the hard work it took her to get to her current position, but the hard work of generations before her. 

“If you rewind a few generations, I am also the maternal and paternal granddaughter of Cuban women domestic workers and the daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother of four, factory line worker, who retired as a janitorial worker,” Dache said. 

With this in mind, Dache also looked back at her education journey and how her first Latina professor in college made an impact on her career, and eventually became her mentor.

“When I got to college, my first and only Latina professor actually became my advisor for my PhD, she was Mexican American and that was eye opening for me,” she said. “I remember one of the statistics that she had shared with me about Latinas and higher education was that .003% of Latinas have PhD’s and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t even at 1%.” 

Despite the impact the mentor had, Dache still said she wished she had it earlier in her education career. 

“Although I was successful at navigating higher education, not seeing or identifying with teachers always made me feel like I was an outlier,” she said. “It was huge to have a role model and have someone to share and wanted to mentor me and believe in me and I wish I had it earlier, who knows what might have happened if I had that role model earlier.” 

As Dache embarks on her career as a tenured associate professor, she said she hopes more students will have an opportunity — unlike she did — to connect earlier with those that could have the biggest impact.

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