DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — More women are taking on leadership roles in school districts across Texas for the 2021-2022 academic year compared to men.

281 women were certified this year to become superintendents in Texas schools; that’s compared to 164 men.

In Donna, the school district has recently welcomed its first female superintendent since its creation 100 years ago.

“When you have adverse childhood experiences or a difficult upbringing, sometimes that creates grit and perseverance that pushes us and drives us to be successful,” Angela Dominguez, Donna ISD Superintendent said.

Born to 16-year-old parents in San Antonio and raised by a single father, Dominguez was brought up in one of the poorest school districts in Texas.

She graduated from Dartmouth College, a private Ivy League research university, and one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States.

“And I think one of the reasons that I was inspired to work in school districts like Donna, that focus on students that are in high poverty communities that I see the need for people that can advocate and people that have been through a similar story and trajectory that our students have been through,” Dominguez said.

She completed her Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas at Austin this month, a selective program that accepts only a dozen students.

“And there were times when I even wanted to give up on the doctorate, seven years took me longer than I expected certainly, and in the middle of it, I lost my dad and my grandmother and those barriers shouldn’t be a reason to stop,” she said.

Now, in her 27th year in the education field, Dominguez is viewed as an inspiration to the young generation she serves at Donna and aims to improve the public school experience for her community.

“I hope that my story and my perseverance will inspire our students, especially our young women, that there is nothing stopping them from accomplishing the goals that they set forth,” Dominguez said.

There are about sixteen other districts in the Rio Grande Valley led by women, Hispanics and Latinos only make up about 17% of newly certified superintendents compared to 24% last year.