Karina Elze2021 Rising Alumni

Karina Elze

Karina Elze grew up in Colombia, and is the first in her family to attend college. While working as a paraprofessional at Emerson Spanish Immersion, her commitment to teaching and learning was recognized by school leaders and Karina was selected for the first cohort of CEHD’s “Grow Your Own” program. After graduating and working in the Minneapolis School District for a few years, Karina took a leap of faith and left the district to open her own school, Academia Elze, a Spanish immersion child care center in Minneapolis. Since then, she has focused on growing her center and supporting others from her own community. Karina has become a role model and leader both here and in Colombia, sharing her experience and resources to support others entering the field of early childhood.

Current Job

Founder/owner of Academia Elze

CEHD Degree

Master of Education

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

Founded an independent and successful preschool. Graduated two separate classes of preschoolers to kindergarten. Published a children’s book, Christmas without a Fireplace in both English and Spanish. Became a trainer for early education professionals.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

Going to Mexico with Marina and learning about immigration and the injustice happening at the border.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

Marina Aleixo. She inspired me to help my community.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate university and now I inspired my nieces and nephews to break the circle of poverty in my immediate family.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

Understanding equity, privilege, and the ability to communicate in a global world.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

My favorite workout, Kinrgy X.

How do you describe yourself?

A person who likes to learn about everything.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

Christmas without a Fireplace/Navidad sin Chimenea.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

I would have tea with Policarpa Salavarrieta.

What gets you excited about work?

Watching the children learn and grow and of course their hugs.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?