Mia Monique Arnold is pursuing her STEM degree in math plus her Teaching Credential in UCI's 4-year CalTeach Science and Math Program (CalTeach). Below she shares her thought about her educational journey and her experiences at UCI.
Growing up, one of my favorite things to play was “teacher.” I would force my little brother to sit and listen as I would explain fractions, long division, and the alphabet. Even though he was visually bored, you could tell my own excitement in my voice and expressions. This excitement for teaching has followed me all my life. Throughout middle school and high school, I found myself tutoring my classmates in their more difficult subjects: math and French. Not only did I love the act of teaching them, I also loved the subjects themselves. My love for math came from my interest in mysteries. Theorems and formulas were like the clues that lead to the solutions, and I loved watching the clues all come together. My love for French was similar in the way that grammar and vocabulary worked together to create a meaningful sentence.
So, when it came to picking a college major, I was initially undecided. I knew that I wanted to pursue teaching, and my high school teachers advised me to major in the subject I wanted to teach. Yet, I couldn’t choose between Math and French. I went back and forth between a double major, math minor, or French minor. In the end, I went with the latter, and I’m glad because it led me to the CalTeach program.
As I was going through my new UCI email account the summer before freshman year, I found and email from Kris Houston advertising the PS5 (Physical Science 5) class and the Cal Teach program. Immediately I was hooked. The idea of getting my B.S. and credentials at the same time was perfect for me! So I enrolled in PS5 and had a blast! I remember my professor, Terry Shanahan, giving a demonstration of a science lesson that taught the physics of sound in a way that I had never seen before. It was fun, accessible, and conceptual. This was the first time I learned that math and science don’t have to be taught the traditional way.
I continued taking CalTeach courses, and I’ve learned so much about teaching. I love what we discuss in lecture, from Culturally Responsive Teaching to Unit Planning. Not only do we get to explore these topics, but we also get to put them in motion in our fieldwork. I loved my experience in middle school and all that it has taught me.
Being in CalTeach also has given me a chance to get to know my classmates and future colleagues. Through the social events that our Advisory board hosts, I’ve made friends that have helped support me in my classes and beyond.
I’m in CalTeach Cohort 2020, so I’ll be graduating next year. After graduation, I plan to move back to my hometown, Indio, California, and teach math in middle school. I feel that the students in my area would really benefit from the type of teachers CalTeach produces, and I can’t wait to be that teacher for them!
I also haven’t given up on my dream to teach French. I’m currently working on attaining my French Teachers Credentials in addition to CalTeach. The hope is that I can inspire my desert kids not only to pursue STEM but also to share my passion for the French language.
Another goal of mine has always been to make a difference in kids' lives. Through my work with CalTeach and the Foster Students Ambassadors Club (UCI’s foster youth club) and my own experiences, I know there is a lot that needs to be done in the education system to help disadvantaged kids. So, recently, I’ve considered acquiring an Administrative Credential. My hope is that in an admin role I can initiate the change that this demographic needs.
Thanks to the people at CalTeach and the people at UCI's FYRE Scholars Program (Foster Youth Resilience in Education Scholars Program), I feel prepared to pursue these dreams and goals. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for me!