Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Mara Joseli Queiroz Vaughn, UNT Dallas

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Mara J. Queiroz Vaughn in Washington DC at the Supreme Court Building


Meet Dr. Mara Joseli Queiroz Vaughn. She immigrated to the United States from Brazil 30 years ago. Since 2017 she has created programs at UNT Dallas that provide students valuable hands-on experience that teach citizenship, civics, and languages. Dr. Vaughn integrates college students and faculty from various departments, including UNT Dallas School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Education and UNT Dallas College of Law into her program. Dr. Vaughn’s pupils appreciate her caring and inspirational lectures, as well as helping them become skilled bilingual communicators in their professional area of study. At RateMyProfessors.com she gets top scores from her students as a great mentor and leader who cares about their success not just in class but also their future. 


Dr. Vaughn also has a very successful citizenship program serving the community and is the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Dallas Educational Council President. It was announced last July, Dr. Mara Vaughn was appointed one of eight new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) citizenship ambassadors in the nation. We congratulate her for her hard work and achievement. Dr. Vaughn’s continues to serve the immigrant community, engaging non-profit organizations, media, law firms, ISDs and public libraries on her programs in the community and at UNT Dallas. Continue to read and discover more about Dr. Mara Joseli Queiroz Vaughn’s background and her work at UNT Dallas, and why “equity” is her personal motto.




It would seem that communicating in a few languages would be helpful with everything that you do. How many do you know?

I have native fluency in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. Although I don’t possess native-like fluency, I can communicate in Galician, Italian, French, and Catalan. Languages for me are like music, when you have that song in your head, you want to sing it a million times!


Favorite thing about your job? 

I love to hear people’s stories. I work with people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. I am fueled and fulfilled by working with students in the community, developing strong partnerships, and creating programs that truly change lives. In each class, I emphasize the importance of creating pathways to socioeconomic mobility for all. Equity is my motto!


Proudest work moment? 

My proudest moment was to be recognized as USCIS Immigration Ambassador. I am one of eight selected in the entire country. I remember that in my mother and grandmother’s time, women could not be doctors. I was born during a dictatorship in Brazil. For my entire family, my Ph.D. was a huge accomplishment, especially when it was accomplished in the greatest nation in the world; leading people as an official USCIS Ambassador, is personally off the charts for me! I am doing my best to live up to my family and my community’s expectations. I would like to see more job opportunities for the immigrant community. I also would like to see more diversity and inclusion training and awareness in the communities in which we live.


Proudest nonwork moment? 

The most significant event in my life was the birth of my son. I battled cancer for 3 years. I was told I could never bare children after that. Becoming pregnant was magical. Delivering my first son was a dream; the second one, a gift from above.  


Fact about you that may surprise your work colleagues?

I love to dance and see others dance. I believe magic happens when we move to the sound of music. It is impossible to dance and be sad at the same time.  



Book:? The Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. Educators with the same ideology as Freire’s changed the face of education throughout the world. The end of dictatorships and rise of the middle class started with philosophers such as Freire.


Movie:? Ghost. The movie gives the idea that life is worth living well, and that there is a continuation of life after physical death. I also like the multicultural aspect of this 90s movie.  


TV Show:? The Wonder Years. I love the series because it shows the different conflicts of a teen’s life. Both children and adults can relate to the show. I love the natural and funny approach the writer uses to solve the major issues of the main characters’ lives. 


Inspirational Hero:? Mother Teresa is the most inspirational figure. When I was a young child, I wanted to be a nun, so that I could help the poor and the innocent. Her strength moved me to want to do things greater than myself. I truly believe in her words: "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."


Place to visit:? 

My hometown, Aracaju, Brazil, is my favorite place to visit. It is an enchanted place. I never run out of things to do. There, anyone can be himself/herself. For example, I can run barefooted on the beach and sing aloud anytime, even if I can’t care a tune. People in my city are very hospitable. They praise diversity and throw a red carpet every time a visitor arrives.



Thailicious in Southlake, is my most favorite restaurant at the moment. However, I am very eclectic when it comes to food. I eat anything, anywhere. I never go hungry in a different country! Lately, seeing how harmful deforestation and agriculture for animal consumption is to the environment, I have been contemplating veganism. I love vegan dishes.  



My favorite song of all times is “We are the World,” by U.S.A. for Africa. I was 10 years old when first heard the song. This song moved me and shaped me into who I am today. The last time I sang it aloud was my last day at a university. My students threw a party for me and played the song without knowing it was my favorite. They gathered in a circle, held hands, cried, and vowed never to live by those words. Today, all who were there are somehow working hard on “turning stones to bread, lending a helping hand.”



I love Oprah’s motivational speeches, how she connects with people. I also love her persistence to change the world, one person at a time. I love that she is not afraid of failing. I also believe that failing is an opportunity to do things better. Success does not belong to the most intelligent, it belongs to the most resilient.  



My favorite hobby is traveling. I value experiences more than I value possessions. No one can travel and stay the same. Traveling makes a person appreciate different things in life. You see the world differently after each experience. After a while, you feel like you can belong anywhere and everywhere! When I was in Washington D.C., I was specially interested in taking a picture in front of the Supreme Court. Why? Because I truly believe in democracy. I believe in justice and equality. I believe all people deserve the same chance in life.


Charitable cause:?

It is very hard for me to pick just one charitable cause. I truly believe that if we eradicated hunger in the world and provided educational opportunities to all human beings, violence would disappear. There would be no refugee crisis. We could unite to cure diseases and preserve the Earth. "Imagine all the people, sharing all the world." (John Lennon)