A Labor of Love

Based on her own experiences as a non-native speaker of English, Sabreen Kabir is eager to improve outcomes for English language learners.

Sabreen Kabir

When Sabreen Kabir, an early childhood and special education major, moved from her native country of Bangladesh to Maryland in 2015 to pursue a degree in education, she recognized strengths and challenges she would face as a non-native English speaker.

At TU, she is drawing on her own experience to empower other English language learners in a project funded by a five-year $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition. “In a new country, you are not quite sure of the customs and how your voice will be heard,” explains Kabir.

As a research assistant for the English Learners Moving to Proficient Outcomes with Engagement and Rigor (EMPOWER) Project, she has developed bilingual flashcards for students at partner schools, updated the project website, and assisted in data collection and research. “I never imagined making such an impact with younger students,” says Kabir. “TU has given me so much exposure.” Kabir was also involved in the Educators Rising Maryland state conference and Honestly Autism Day.

“ I know there will be a time in my future when I can share my knowledge with people in my native country. ”

Sabreen Kabir

The recipient of an International Student Scholarship and the Dennis H. Hinkle Memorial Scholarship, Kabir says the dual program in early childhood and special education offers the perfect combination of her interests.

“The Department of Special Education is my family,” attests Kabir. EMPOWER Project Principal Investigator Patricia Rice Doran and Co-Principal investigators Elizabeth Neville and Gilda Martinez-Alba opened doors for Kabir to gain meaningful new experiences and have been her biggest advocates. “I have made so many connections and these experiences have helped me grow both personally and professionally.”

“I know there will be a time in my future when I can share my knowledge with people in my native country,” says Kabir, who one day wants to be a change agent in Bangladesh following in the footsteps of her mother, a teacher in Bangladesh for 20 years.

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