Jasmine Chang has been awarded the Dean's Scholarship during the UCI School of Education 2018-2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony. Jasmine is pursuing her Single Subject Master of Arts in Teaching in Science. Below, she shares her thoughts about her academic journey.
I was born in Castro Valley, California on September 7, 1995. I have an older sister and an older brother, both of whom are specializing in the science fields. My sister is a physical therapist and my brother is an EMT/Paramedic. We all grew up in a private school currently named California Crosspoint Academy, where our academic needs were met above and beyond with the support of our parents and teachers. While I appreciated the highly academic environment I grew up in, what I didn’t realize going through school was how thankful I should have been for it. I grew up in a place of privilege without realizing it. I went through the COSMOS program at UC Davis the summer before my senior year solely because I was interested in it. I loved it. My parents helped me explore my academic curiosities and had the means to pay for it. It was only when I started exploring the field of education through internships in college that I saw the drastic differences among schools. It shocked me that not all students were given the same opportunities as me.
For my undergraduate education, I attended UC Davis from 2013 to 2017, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and minoring in Education. While I was there, I knew that I wanted to be an educator, so I also took classes from their MAST program (Math and Science Teaching). Through my time in their MAST program, I was exposed to schools both in Davis and Woodland. Davis schools were what I was familiar with, but it was one Woodland school that altered my perception of teaching. In Woodland, I was in a lower SES school, and saw ELLs, immigrants, and students who just did not seem to be engaged in school. I grew from being shocked about their circumstances, to truly loving these students and wanting to be involved with them. However, during my internship, my options were limited by transportation and time, so I filed away my thoughts and feelings, but resolved to serve these students in the future.
During my senior year of college, I applied to UC Davis’ graduate program for a teaching credential and master’s in education. I had catered my college career to Davis’ grad requirements, only to be rejected without other schools to fall back on. I decided to apply to KIPP schools in the Bay Area, only to be in an interview with a candidate who was much more highly qualified because she was working for an Americorps organization called City Year. During the interview I spoke with her briefly about City Year, and was intrigued. After receiving notice that I was not accepted to KIPP schools, I applied for City Year. I was accepted within a couple weeks, and moved down to San Jose to begin my 11 months of service that brought so much perspective and resolve. I was placed at Ocala STEAM Academy in East San Jose’s Alum Rock School District. My job there was to build relationships with students, support a math and science classroom during the day, perform tier 2 interventions in math, and co-lead a 6th grade afterschool classroom (homework help & a 1-hour STEAM lesson each day). During the 11 months, I met students who were abandoned by their parents, who were afraid of ICE, who lived in garages, and who had shoes too small for them. It was these students whom I worked with, taught, and learned from, who confirmed my desire to become a teacher in schools like theirs where I can marvel at the strength and resilience they’re building through their day-to-day lives. It is through my memories and experience with them that I approach this year at UCI striving to be a teacher of empathy and inclusion.
Jasmine Chang and Associate Dean Elizabeth van Es