Samantha Zaret has been awarded the Dean's Scholarship during the UCI School of Education 2018-2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony. Samantha is pursuing her Multiple Subject Master of Arts in Teaching. Below, she shares her thoughts about her academic journey.
Unlike many of my friends and colleagues, I did not have a lifelong goal of becoming a teacher. Three years ago, I was a first-year law student expecting to go into child advocacy. I always had a passion for children and thought I could make the biggest impact on their behalf through law. However, after completing an intensive externship representing foster youth in Los Angeles, I realized the people who were making the biggest impact in my clients’ lives were the teachers who were supporting them every day. While I spent 5-10 minutes with them once every couple of weeks, their teachers were advocating for them on a daily basis inside the classroom. These teachers, with minimal resources and at least 20 other children in the classroom, all of whom were English Language Learners, made sure my clients had an emotionally and physically safe space to come to everyday. It was the only place they could be actual children and forget the very adult problems they were dealing with outside the classroom.
I quickly discovered my true calling was education and I left law school to work as a full-time teaching assistant. Those two years inside a classroom affirmed my decision to enter the field of education and I decided I could not wait any longer to take the steps necessary to become a teacher. Now, as a student teacher in a Title I school, every day inside the classroom reaffirms my commitment to systematically underserved students in our community. Beyond reading, writing, math, and science, I hope to teach a sense of empathy and self-confidence in my future students that unveils their own voice and ability to succeed in every aspect of their lives.
Samantha Zaret and Associate Dean Elizabeth van Es