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‘Straight A’ student earns bachelor’s degree three years after becoming U.S. citizen

Picture of Barbara Figueredo who is a King O'Neal Scholar

By Sarah Sell, University Communications and Marketing

At the age of two, Barbara Figueredo moved to the U.S. from Venezuela after her family left the country due to the political turmoil that continues today.

Coming to America and learning English at a young age made her want to become a teacher.

“My parents speak Spanish at home, so when I was in daycare and kindergarten, I started learning English,” Figueredo said. “I loved to play teacher, and I would sit down and teach my parents how to spell and pronounce words in English.”

Figueredo is now preparing to graduate with an Education degree and has been looking back at the challenges overcome while being proud of her accomplishments at USF St. Petersburg.

As a freshman in Fall 2020, she attended classes remotely from her home in Orlando during the height of the pandemic. She still found ways to make meaningful connections, joined clubs and excelled in her classes.

That same year, she became a United States citizen, a goal she had been working toward since moving to the country. Although her ceremony was held virtually, she experienced her father’s in-person ceremony the following year. 

“It was super meaningful. We got to watch the entire thing. There was a video playing different things about the U.S. and they had a big American flag that we all got to take pictures in front of. It was wonderful.” 

Figueredo chose the USF St. Petersburg campus because it offered an Education degree with the certifications and endorsements she sought. While here, she was a peer coach and orientation leader and worked with students with intellectual disabilities in the Eileen Hoffman Hafer UMatter program.

Figueredo is completing an internship with Pinellas County Schools, working with fourth graders at Gulf Beaches Magnet School in St. Petersburg. She hopes to teach K-6 grade and find an elementary school that can benefit from her dual language skills.

“I’m going to be a teacher in Pinellas County, but I’m not sure what school yet,” she said. “I’m super excited. I’m looking forward to decorating and having my own classroom and putting my education degree to work.”

During Fall Commencement, Figueredo will receive a Bachelor of Science in Education with certificates in Elementary Education, Exceptional Student Education and endorsements in reading and English for Speakers of Other Languages. She’ll also receive the King O’Neal Scholars Award, given to students who complete their undergraduate coursework with a 4.0 grade-point average.

Figueredo plans to pursue a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at USF while being a full-time teacher.

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