International Women's Day at A&M-Central Texas

On March 8, people around the world come together to celebrate women's achievements, advocate for women's equality, and fundraise for female-focused charities. CDEI recognizes three of our community members.

International Women's Day at A&M-Central Texas

Celebrating Our Community Members

Dr. Sonia Aguilar

Visiting Assistant Professor of Management

College of Business Administration

Dr. Aguilar is no stranger to hardships. “Bendiciones” is what she calls the challenges that shaped her life. Her distressed parents left Mexico and came to the U.S., seeking for their children a better way of life. Of five siblings, and second to the youngest, she was soon speaking broken English…timidly interpreting as they migrated to work in other states.

As a first generation graduate, she spent fifteen years after high school in numerous jobs, developing the strong foundation and work ethic she brings into the classroom today. Later, as a mother, she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the age of thirty-nine. Shortly after, she was teaching at-risk students in early college high schools and community colleges in South Texas.

Her humble beginnings drive her to seek ways to help students achieve their full potential. In 2006, she traveled with twenty-two college students through seven countries in Europe, learning business etiquette as they headed to Salamanca. She then taught International Business at the University of Salamanca, an 800-year old institution and the oldest in Spain. In 2017, she was working closely with the World Academy for the future of Women in Xinzheng, China, assisting aspiring student entrepreneurs to set up their first business ventures, while teaching more than 800 students at Sias International University.  In 2018 she traveled to India to contribute with solutions to their demographic dividend and high illiteracy rate, providing best practices in the vocational education sector at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and Marampally College, in Cochin, Kerala.

Today Dr. Aguilar holds a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.  She has published in journals such as Business Ethics and Leadership, Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability, and in the international book: Research Perspectives in Human Capital Development.

Reminiscing on her roots, she volunteers at Helping Hands Ministry as an interpreter for patients who understand little or no English. She enjoys life with her husband, sons, and grandkids. On her spare time she writes short stories inspired by true events. Faith is her fountain of resilience.  She leads a life of gratitude, knowing that “with God all things are possible”.

Minerva Cotton

Minerva D. Cotton, M. Ed.

Academic Advisor

Killeen Independent School District

Raised in Killeen, Minerva D. Cotton graduated from Killeen High School and then attended Tarleton State University-Central Texas and earned her undergraduate degree. After graduation, Mrs. Cotton began her teaching career in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. She spent a total of 14 years in elementary education, where she served as classroom teacher, elementary Spanish teacher, reading and math interventionist and instructional coach.

In 2007, Mrs. Cotton received her master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of North Texas. She has served as the ESL Teacher at Charles Patterson Middle School and is now in her 2nd year as the Academic Advisor. She is in her 19th year in education. Mrs. Cotton is married to Brian Cotton, who is the attendance officer at Ellison High School after 20 years of coaching most recently at Ellison High School.

When school is not in session Mrs. Cotton enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and volunteering in the community through various organizations she is involved with. She is a founding member of LULAC Herencia Council #4297, Educated Angels, The Central Texas Herencia Foundation, and a founding member of Central Texas Area Alliance of Black School Educators.

Claudia (Marce) Mora Pineda.

Claudia (Marce) Mora Pineda, M.Ed.

Higher Education Leadership, M.Ed.

Sociology, BS


In 2012, I started taking ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Learning how to communicate in another language was not easy, actually, it is a little harder when you are an adult that decided to go back to college. I still remember the first day of my first college class (Philosophy) because I sat in the back of the classroom pretending to understand what my professor was saying while remaining quiet; that way nobody would know that I was not fluent in English. Once the class was finished, I went to the parking lot and I cried inside my car because I did not understand my professor; it was frustrating. I thought about withdrawing from class and giving up on my college education. But I am a Hispanic woman: determined and strong. “We don’t quit until we don’t leave everything on the field”.

In 2016, I graduated from Central Texas College with two Associates. One in Social Sciences and other in Modern Language. I had to study more than any native speaker student. It was so difficult but not impossible!

My life experience in a foreign country inspired me to choose Sociology as my bachelor's. Every class fascinated me because everything was new! I was studying a culture through the science and the world was revealed in a different way to me. Thus, in December 2017 I earned a Bachelor’s in Science with a Major in Sociology and a minor in Business Administration from Texas A&M - Central Texas. Also, I graduated as a Magna Cum Laude student.

In 2018, while I was working in a Law firm as a legal assistant screening cases for medical and nursing homes' negligence; I decided to go back to the university and do my Master,s. In August 2020, I earned a Master's in Higher Education with emphasis in institutional change. Sociology and Education became my passion!

Now, I am a volunteer working as a Research Associate for the Office of Research and Economic Development at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, and an ESL Instructor at Temple College. It is a blessing to me that I can help students from different nationalities getting them integrated into the American culture. It is my personal goal to be an inspiration; through my personal example, to make them believe in themselves and the possibility of reaching their educational and professional dreams.

Virtual Advisor