At the 2016-2017 Master of Arts in Teaching Recognition Ceremony, Bethany Ellis was awarded a Mary Roosevelt Honor Scholarship in Teaching and Learning for excellence in academics, demonstrated leadership skills, and dedication to improving the lives and educational opportunities of students. Bethany is pursuing her MAT with a Single Subject Credential in English. Below, she shares her thoughts about her educational journey and her chosen career.
I hail from the small town of Newbury Park, California (Newbs), where people are early to bed and early to rise. When I was growing up, I was always told that living in Newbury Park sheltered me because it is a tucked-away town and therefore very safe. My best friend’s family would never lock their doors, and the person in front of you at the grocery store checkout line would always place down the divider for your items. Sheltered or not, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity for a rigorous education throughout my primary and secondary years. Although I have consistently been an honors student who is borderline obsessed with doing my best and reaching the highest obtainable goals, the 2000-2012 Beth was only concerned with the test or the grade. I am blessed to have a personal motivation and a personal drive that does not allow me to do poorly, but it was not until I began my education at California State University, Long Beach, that I genuinely wanted to learn and understand various materials and how they interact and affect the world I live in. I began to place more importance on how the information I theorize, research, and understand can change just about everything, whether it directly relates to me or not.
Until I moved to Long Beach, I was a competitive dancer and taught dance to beginners for four years. Teaching those awkward and struggling kids was the best part of my day because even if they never grew to love the art of dance, each and every one understood what it took to point your toes. It did not matter how many dance performances I did; I was always anxious right before stepping out onto the dance floor because of the adrenaline and excitement running through my veins. I never wanted to lose that feeling. I was told that if you are "nervous" before doing something, then keep doing it because you are still excited about that something.
Teaching has been the only other activity that gave me that rush of anxious excitement. I grew to love teaching so much that it almost did not matter what I was teaching. I absolutely love language and words and how they interact to create ideas and thought. It never ceases to amaze me how writing and reading can change and affect a lifetime of individuals. Although I love the subject of English, I love teaching it entirely more.
While being enrolled in classes at CSULB I met so many different people with entirely different ways of thinking. It was fascinating and turned me into a learner for life; however, I will never forget the feeling that basic skills were being forgotten. I do not believe a person can move forward without the proper knowledge of foundational skills. Therefore, teaching became my ultimate path.
I chose UCI to help me understand how to teach these skills for adolescents because I think UCI's program is the most capable for my personality. At this stage in my education, I constantly feel nervous about my ability to foster the higher level of thinking I desperately want to see in American citizens, but I know after my time at UCI I will be more prepared than ever. Feeling those anxious nerves wind up while I walk the UCI campus assures me that I made the right choice. My ultimate decision to attend UCI was heavily influenced by my belief that this program will prepare me more than ever so that when I stand in front of a high school English classroom, I can reach my lifetime goal: to help people be better.
Mary Roosevelt and Bethany Ellis
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