"When I finally had the opportunity to apply to college, I was set on becoming a teacher." Esmeralda Martin
Senior Esmeralda (Esmi) Martin is combining a double major in Education Sciences and Psychology & Social Behavior with service activities as a School of Education Peer Academic Advisor, President of the Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) School of Education Honor Society, and Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Baby Books 2 Lab. Below she share her thoughts about education and her academic journey.
I knew at a young age that I was going to attend college. Although neither my parents nor my siblings attended college, I was always expected to pursue a higher education and study something I loved. So I started brainstorming what I wanted to be when I grew up. In 3rd grade I wanted to be an author for children’s books. I asked my teacher what I had to do to accomplish my dreams, and she told me I had to get good grades in school and go to college. From then on I knew I had to study hard and exceed academically to fulfill my goals.
Eventually, as I got older, my dreams changed, and when I finally had the opportunity to apply to college, I was set on becoming a teacher. During high school I had volunteered at my elementary school in a kindergarten class, and I absolutely loved it. I loved helping the students and being a part of their learning and education.
UCI was a perfect choice for me because it had a major in Education, unlike other UCs in the system. At first, transitioning to UCI from my very small, rural hometown was very difficult, but as I got more comfortable on campus, I began to join clubs, volunteered in research labs, and even applied for a campus job.
Currently, I am President of the KDP honor society of the School of Education and a Peer Academic Advisor in the Education Student Affairs office. Both of my positions have given me the opportunity to influence the possible educators of the future and help my peers find their passion. It is my duty to advise them about campus resources and inform them on certain opportunities that will benefit their overall experience here at UCI.
My experience at UCI had a rocky beginning, but as I continued getting involved in the School of Education, I met people who were willing to support me. Through my positions in the School of Education I have the ability to do the same for my peers. UCI has given me the ability to influence, explore, and succeed. UCI allowed me to explore all the possibilities in which I could help children succeed. As I took a couple development courses and got involved in research in the School of Education, I found that research was the best way for me to have a larger, positive influence.
I have been an undergraduate research assistant for the Baby Books 2 lab since my second year of college, and it has been such an amazing experience. I love being a small part of a larger project that can influence the way children learn, grow, and experience the world. I also had the opportunity to conduct my own research project through the support of UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) and SURP (Summer Undergraduate Research Program). My project focused on the way Latino parents use mobile technologies to manage their young children’s behavior.
Conducting my own research project really gave me hands-on experience with designing the project and interacting with the participants. From this research I discovered how much I enjoyed working with families that are very similar to my own. My parents both migrated here from Mexico and experienced a lot of hardship, which has been a main motivator for me throughout my life. Although my parents worked very hard, our economic standing and rural, small town location made resources very difficult to find and acquire. Unfortunately, many ethnically diverse parents could very likely be going through similar situations. Therefore, I would like to attend graduate school and become a professor to dedicate time to research in helping parents such as mine, with the goal of giving them resources and information on how to support every aspect of their children’s development.