Fernanda Marrero Hi Starts "My Teacher Looks Like Me" Scholarship Fund for Undergraduates of Colors Interested in Teaching

Fernanda Marrero Hi is only a year out of her undergraduate journey at the University of Houston, but she has already created a scholarship to help other students like her. She named the fund "My Teacher Looks Like Me" and will grant an award every semester to an undergraduate student of color who is training to become a teacher.

"There are lots of students of color at the University of Houston, and I would hate for them to not consider a career in the teaching profession because of financial problems," Marrero Hi explains.

She understands firsthand how important teachers and mentors are to a young person's success. When she looks back on her time at UH, she can't help but reflect on how many people contributed to her accomplishments. "I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without the support I got," she says. She points out, "Teachers make all the other professions."

Diversifying the teacher population is one of Marrero Hi's passions. "There are teacher shortages all over the country, especially among teachers of color. There have never been more students of color in America than now. With the changes in racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S., it's imperative the teaching population changes to reflect that diversity."

She began her undergraduate career wanting to be one of these teachers. She was in the teachHouston program, a collaboration between UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Education and local school districts that gives students hands-on teaching experiences as they study to teach STEM. She considers the experience extremely valuable because it exposed her to the educational inequities faced by students, educators and communities. As a result, she became interested in education policy issues, so she added a second major, sociology, to her earth sciences major. She has steadily advocated for students and educators at Harvard's Graduate School of Education in the education policy and analysis program. She balances her studies with her job as a program manager at the city of Houston mayor's office of education.

What helped her achieve these goals were the scholarships and grants she received from UH, specifically the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship through teachHouston. The scholarship program allowed her to attend multiple conferences around the U.S., including St. Louis, Missouri and Portland, Oregon, where she was able to take advantages of opportunities to network. She credited this financial support as allowing her to take unpaid internships that extended her learning beyond the classroom.

In addition to financial support, she met her mentors at UH. In Mariam Manuel, Ph.D., a professor of STEM education, she found exactly the kind of teacher she hopes to see more of in the future: a woman of color who came from a similar background as many of her students and who inspires them. Another mentor, Leah McCalister-Shields, Ed.D., a professor of DEI and STEM education, was who she approached about her scholarship idea. McCalister-Shields supported her and connected her with the right people to make it happen.

Just as she hopes to encourage UH undergrads like her to consider education as a profession, she hopes to encourage other potential donors to give back. "That's my target audience: other alumni like me. I assumed the people who do this are very wealthy people. I didn't think my money would make much difference. Even though my scholarship is a one-time award, I do consider that I can still make an impact."

She advises other alumni like her to push past their preconceived misconceptions about who can be a donor. "Find a cause you're passionate about. I'm passionate about adding diverse teachers to the teaching population. A practical way to make a difference is to set up a scholarship fund for something you are passionate about, and in the process, your impact is two-fold. You get to support a current student in their studies and contribute to your cause simultaneously."

Fernanda Marrero Hi

Fernanda Marrero Hi.

Fernanda Marrero Hi.


teachHouston group photographed.

teachHouston group photographed.