The UCLA Award for Community Service is awarded to Roxana Dueñas M.Ed. ’09 for her enrichment of others and the betterment of her community through her generous contribution of time and talents. An inspiration to students and colleagues alike, Dueñas teaches students to think critically and empower themselves while working to improve public education and their community.
The first in her family to attend college, Dueñas graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts degree in women’s studies and Chicana/o studies. Dueñas earned her teaching credential and Master’s Degree in Education from UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, and exemplifies the program’s motto to teach, transform and inspire. An ethnic studies and history teacher at the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, the community she grew up in, she uses a dynamic inquiry-based approach to bring subjects to life for her students.
With a goal to ensure schools empower students with opportunities that see themselves represented, Dueñas has worked to redefine how ethnic studies is taught in Boyle Heights, inspiring her students to be proud of where they come from, to give back and to take a stand for social justice. She co-created the curriculum for “Boyle Heights and Me,” a study of community history, student activism and local civic engagement. The curriculum inspired the book “This is My Revolution,” a collection of student prose and poetry.
Dueñas teaches her students to become active community members and inspires them through her actions. She became the face of the 2019 LAUSD teachers’ strike, posing for a poster and billboards commissioned by the Los Angeles teachers’ union. She was chosen by local artist Ernesto Yerena as the perfect embodiment of a role model who has galvanized her students and her community.
Dueñas is currently part of LAUSD’s Ethnic Studies Leadership Team helping schools implement robust ethnic studies programs. She is a two-time Gilder Lehrman fellow and won the 2015 United Way 25 Inspirational Teacher Award. Dueñas shares her knowledge and expertise with various universities, teacher education programs and nonprofit organizations in order to support and grow meaningful ethnic studies programs.