At the 2016-2017 Master of Arts in Teaching Recognition Ceremony, Dane O'Barr was awarded a Mary Roosevelt Honor Scholarship in Teaching and Learning for excellence in academics, demonstrated leadership skills, and dedication to improving the lives and educational opportunities of students. Dane is pursuing his MAT with a Single Subject Teaching Credential . Below, he shares his thoughts about his educational journey and his chosen career.
I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. My family was supportive of my early interest in barbering.So, after graduating Orange Coast College with my AA, I attended barber school. Upon graduating, I got a job at a prestigious barber shop and soon worked my way up to managing one their locations in Huntington Beach. During this time, however, I was generally unhappy with this career choice and desired a profession that I could take pride in. I wanted more out of life than just a paycheck; I wanted to a profession where virtue would be rewarded through the act of helping people.
After getting my bachelor’s degree, soul-searching, and defining what it means to live a good life, I took a leap of faith and applied to UCI for their Masters of Arts in Teaching program. My brother, T.J., went to UCI for his undergraduate degree as well as for medical school. He credits UCI for giving him the best education and preparation for his profession as an Anesthesiologist. I knew that if I was going to undertake such an important profession as teaching, I would need the best possible preparation for it. My choice of UCI has been reaffirmed many times over.
Education, I believe, paves the way for people’s success in life. Being a teacher is one of the most honorable and noble and professions there is. We are learning that students will only care about how much you know after they know how you much you care about them. Being in such an influential position calls for the best attributes of someone’s character, and I feel my character is worthy of the call. A memorable experience was the visit from Sylvia Mendez. She was only a child when her family attempted to enroll her in a local elementary school but was turned away due to her being Mexican-American. Her family took their case to the California State Court and with the help of a young Thurgood Marshall, won their case. California ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional and was therefore abolished. To see and hear a living account of how bias affected our education was eye-opening. Furthermore, she told us of how de facto segregation has become de jure segregation, thus making the problem worse than it was.
My plans are to graduate by the summer of 2017 and hopefully find employment as an English teacher in a local Orange County High School. I am also planning on starting an after-school club/class for students that will teach them how to transform themselves through physical exercise and proper nutrition. I feel that seeing the results of hard work and dedication in the gym can translate into success with any other goals the students might have. Ultimately, I want to teach my students the value of working through adversity to realize their goals. Being a positive influence in someone’s life is the highest honor one could hope for.