“Pipina.” That’s what friends called Josefina Acevedo Salas-Porras. That diminutive nickname, however, belied Pipina’s can-do spirit and her groundbreaking career as an educator on the U.S./Mexico Border.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Pipina’s family, fleeing the Mexican Revolution, moved to El Paso, Texas, so Pipina grew up hearing and speaking both Spanish and English. As a child, she loved language, especially the nursery rhymes her parents taught her. Her childhood interest in language evolved into a lifelong passion for teaching children the joy of bilingualism. She felt it was important for children to know two languages.
In 1946, Pipina was one of the first fifteen Hispanic females to graduate from the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy, now the University of Texas at El Paso. As a teacher, she was a pioneer in El Paso education for developing bilingual programs for students. She interrupted her teaching career to raise her five children, but she did not forget her love for teaching language. When her children were older, Pipina was instrumental in founding The Bilingual Institute, a language school for children and adults.
Pipina Salas Porras was a Trustee of the Freedom Forum Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, the largest foundation in the U.S. dedicated to media and first amendment issues, and was a large supporter of the University of Texas at El Paso. Her death was a loss to her family and the city of El Paso.