Elsie Vargas is a former educator committed to public service work by helping underserved populations and empowering others. She has 12 purposeful years as a social justice advocate in the field of education with a combination of both managerial and classroom teaching experience. Prior to her selection as a National Urban Fellow, Elsie worked as a Regional Manager for multiple childcare facilities in the state of Maryland. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing business operations. She ensured that all employees were treated fairly and had a voice. Her fierce drive for education and excellence extends beyond her professional working relationships to her personal ones. Elsie takes the time to listen to the needs of her employees in order to help them develop in the best ways. A strong believer in self-improvement, she uses a variety of methods to problem solve and collaborate with others to find solutions to challenges. This has been evident in her many years of active membership on the executive board with parent affinity groups in Howard County, such as Latin American Council (LAC) and Parent Council for Black Students (PCBS) at the local high school. Her leadership, consistent participation and active recruitment increased opportunities for minority students, as well as improved relationships between the school and the community.
Prior to her managerial role, Elsie was selected as a Teach for America corps member – a highly selective two-year program that provides leadership to strengthen the movement for educational equality by servicing students in disadvantaged communities. She spent 5 years as an Elementary educator working at a diverse school with 21 different countries represented in the student population. This continued her passion to uplift and enhance positive outcomes through public service. She used several methods of communication to connect with families and help get them involved in their children’s academic and overall growth. Elsie also built strong connections with her students by sparking a thirst for learning through curriculum planning, educational and fun child-centered activities, while building excellent rapport with her students to elevate their academics each year.
During her time as a college instructor, Elsie utilized her unique skills to tap into student potential and raise student performance levels to an all time high. She led campus activities, committees, projects, and events to promote student engagement. Elsie also facilitated events and advised on school matters that assisted with the development and training of staff to increase diversity awareness and advocacy for students of color. This resulted in her promotion to Academic Program Director, where she oversaw and managed the retention of 400 students in the Criminal Justice program to ensure successful completion of their degree.
Elsie attained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University. As a reflective leader and life-long learner, Elsie is currently pursuing an additional graduate degree from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy through the National Urban Fellows Program. It is through this enriching fellowship that she hopes to develop her knowledge of public policy and management experience to better prepare her to cultivate her skills to become an impactful leader of reform in the areas of anti-racism, LGBTQ+, and women’s rights.