Senior Jarrod Ventura, 2018-19 president of the Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT) Club, has been an active undergraduate. He is pursuing a double major in Education Sciences and Film & Media Studies while contributing to TOT club activities since his freshman year. Below, he shares his thoughts about education and about his time at UCI.
I was born and raised in a small town called Pensacola, Florida. It’s on the border of Alabama and Florida, also known as the “Gulf Coast”. When growing up, my mom and dad taught me to be courageous and to use that courageousness to feed my curiosity for learning. Being a first generation child, I have been taught to be grateful for the education that I have received, and to always strive to make the world a better place.
When I was 12 years old, my mom passed away. One thing that surprised me was that not only were my friends and family there for me during one of the hardest times of my life, but also that the faculty and staff from my middle school were watching out for me in all ways possible. The principal, assistant principal, and a handful of my previous teachers came to my mother’s services. My previous teachers even warned my new teachers that I was a good student, but to watch out for me. To this day, I still talk to some of those teachers. From that moment on, I would watch teachers' interactions with students to see if they were doing everything they could to help the student as a whole.
For my high school years, I went to Pensacola High School and attended an IB (International Baccalaureate) program, an advanced program in which you could earn college credits. (It was a lot different than AP classes, might I add.) Even in high school, I had teachers that were so passionate about the subjects that they were teaching that it inspired me to pursue teaching as a career. The teachers in my high school cared for me in the same way that the teachers did in middle school. When I graduated from high school, the look in all of the teachers' eyes was astonishing because you could tell that they cared for us like their own children. Knowing that I could be doing the same in the future for other students is a feeling that I can’t describe, but it is one of the most rewarding feelings ever.
I entered UC Irvine as an Education Sciences major and later added Film & Media Studies as my double major. As a freshman, I joined the club Teachers of Tomorrow, which is a club for undergraduates that provides information on becoming a teacher, addresses issues in education, and explores job opportunities within education.
Being in Teachers of Tomorrow for almost four years has given me insight on how many problems are in the education system, but it also has taught me solutions to some of these problems. As an educator, I want to bring light to these issues to my students because education is almost single-handedly the force for social change. I hope to one day be a community college teacher teaching English or Creative Writing or a high school English teacher. With either profession, I want to be able to teach students not only how to be critical thinkers and writers, but also to pursue their dreams no matter what field they choose.
"Pursuing your dream" is a phrase commonly heard, especially in high school, but I want to make students’ dreams a reality. Often we are told to pursue our dreams, but many times students don’t feel supported in pursuing what they are passionate about, for various reasons. As an educator, I want to be able to support my students emotionally so that they feel confident to do whatever they put their mind to. Often times I'm tempted to tell myself that I can’t do something, no matter how hard I try, but the reality is that I can do it. Even if I fail, I will have learned from my mistakes, and I will encourage my students to make mistakes too, because life isn’t perfect. Self-discovery is something that we are all going through no matter what age we are. Being a part of the self-discovery process, whether I am teaching community college or high school, will still be one of my priorities as an educator.
To my future students and colleagues, Always have confidence in yourself because a little bit of confidence can take you farther than you think.