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Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Mara Vaughn, UNT Dallas

Mara Vaughn, UNT Dallas

Dr. Vaughn is a fireball of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to higher education, helping her community and, well, life in general. At UNT Dallas since 2013, this native Brazilian serves as the Spanish Program Coordinator, preparing students to become proficient bilingual communicators. She helped to launch the Spanish in the Community U.S. Citizenship Preparation course that assists Spanish-speaking community members prepare to take the citizenship test. This wildly popular course ultimately helps many low-income workers find better jobs that include benefits. A wife and mom of two boys, she loves to travel and her exuberance is at full tilt on the dance floor where her feet can't help but move to the beat. Read on and get to know Dr. Vaughn.



What is your favorite aspect about your job?
I work with people of all ages and backgrounds. I work within the local community, creating programs that change lives. 

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World?
I would like to see more diversity and inclusion training and involvement.

What is your proudest work moment?
My proudest work moment was the 2019 Fall Citizenship course graduation. It was a very emotional moment for all. UNT Dallas students giving diplomas to community students, people who never imagined being back in school.   

What is your proudest non-work moment?
Becoming a significant representative of the Latino community in Dallas, when elected as the first Brazilian president of the Dallas LULAC chapter this year.

What is a 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.

TV show?: The Wonder Years. I love the series because it shows the different conflicts of a teen's life. Everyone, 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 characters' lives. 
Inspirational hero?: Mother Theresa 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."
Restaurant?: I am very eclectic when it comes to food. I eat anything, anywhere. I never go hungry in a different country! However,  lately, seeing how harmful deforestation and agriculture for animal consumption is to the environment, I have been contemplating veganism. I love vegan dishes.
Place to visit?: My hometown, Aracaju (Brazil), is my favorite place to visit. There, anyone can be himself/herself. I can run barefoot on the beach and sing aloud anytime, even if I can't carry a tune. People in my city are very hospitable. They praise diversity and throw a red carpet every time a visitor arrives.
Song?: "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. This song is very special in my house because my two boys and I waltz (usually on the kitchen floor) each time this song comes on. It has become our latest tradition. We practice new twirling moves and have the best time. I remember dancing with them stepping on my feet when they were little. I know some day they will do the same with their children. 
Celebrity?: Jennifer López. I love her honesty. She names her strengths and weaknesses. J-Lo is very independent and intelligent. She does not bow down to dishonest male figures in her life. She just picks up and go! She is not afraid of restarting her life. She's a hard worker and not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.
Hobby?: 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!
Charitable cause?: It is hard to name just one cause. I believe 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 all diseases and preserve the Earth. "Imagine all the people, sharing all the world." -- John Lennon.