Andrea Ignacio, a second year undergraduate studying Education Sciences with a specialization in English Language Learners, is a Student Affairs Assistant in UCI's School of Education. Below, she shares some thoughts about her educational journey and her plans for the future.
While I was growing up, my mother always emphasized the importance of being educated, and I never understood this until I finally went to Mexico, the place that shaped her beliefs about her future. I recall playing with kids my age when I visited my mother’s hometown, and as much as I loved spending time with them, I realized that we did not share the same knowledge when it pertained to certain things. Something inside me wanted to teach them about a world full of opportunities, so I did just that. As the days went by, I would help them pronounce words in English and help them put words together in phrases, until the day I had to come back home. The whole time I just wished I could do more. I wished I could give them all the things I had so that they can also do so much more.
When I visited again, I learned that in Mexico education has to be paid. Regardless of the age or the grade you are in, Pre-K to college is only accessible to those who can afford tuition. Aside from that, teachers are going on strikes frequently due to their wage, and this results in the children missing a lot of school days.
Over the years that vacation always stuck with me, and I started to realize that not everyone has easy access to education. It was shortly after that experience that this quote stayed in my mind: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - Maya Angelou. And as a matter of fact, this is true. Forwarding to a few years later, my aunt would call and mention how those kids I would teach would ask about me, and their parents/neighbors would wonder if I’d ever go back and visit them because the impact I left on them made them become the great human beings they are today.
Knowing that I aspire to be a teacher, I decided to look into a school that had an outstanding Education Department. As I looked more into it, it really intrigued me that over the years, UCI has been one of the few education programs that has been thriving. I recall the moment in 7th grade that my history teacher, Mr. Luong, spoke to me about UC Irvine, the college where he graduated from as well. He would constantly bring up the uniqueness of UCI and how welcoming they were. Little did I know back then that I would actually feel the way he felt when learning about my acceptance at UCI. From the beginning when I stepped foot into UCI, everyone has been incredibly kind and supportive. UCI has exposed me to not only a safe environment but also openness to different opinions and perspectives.
In the summer before starting at UCI, I was glad to find out that I would be able to work at the Student Affairs Office at the School of Education where I have found the support from the counselors that continues inspiring me to explore. In my second quarter of my freshmen year, I applied to participate as a facilitator in the English Conversation Program directed by the International Center. Because I was still debating about the After School and English Language Learners (ELL) specialization in the education major, I volunteered at Karate for All where I interacted with kids with autism, teaching them karate moves in hopes that this experience would guide me into what field I’d like to work on with kids. Now I know that even though I am specializing in ELL, I actually want to work with autistic kids since it is a huge spectrum. I also taught speech therapy so I believe that in working with non-English speakers, my experiences will benefit me in helping a child with autism who needs extra time to process language. I only hope to do as much as I can to keep on helping others, and I aspire to accomplish many more goals by the time I graduate from UCI.