From Adriana Pérez at the Dallas Morning News:
From first-generation student to UNT dean: Pamela Padilla shares her career path
On June 16, Pamela Padilla became the second dean of the College of Science at UNT, and the first woman in that role.
She is also the current president of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, the country's largest group promoting diversity in STEM.
Originally from New Mexico, Padilla described her Native American and Chicano heritage.
She said her father, an avid nature watcher -- especially of birds and deer -- instilled an appreciation for nature in her.
Growing up in a farming community also taught her the value of hard work, she said.
She turned that lesson into action, working hard to go to college despite a tight financial situation.
She earned an undergraduate degree and then pursued a Ph.D. in biology at the University of New Mexico.
Among other things, she then conducted postdoctoral research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., with a scholarship from the National Science Foundation.
Though she comes from a culture of returning home after school, she chose to go to Texas to join UNT as a professor of biological sciences.
That was part of her original plan: to teach in a state university that served primarily first-generation students.
"Because that's who I was," Padilla said. "And I saw that there was a need -- not all of the faculty, as wonderful as they can be as professors and mentors, may have experienced that."
"It helps for students to know that you have a professor that has the same path that you have, and some of the same challenges and experiences," she said.