Time Capsule: Humanities major to MAT Single Subject - Social Science candidate
Jose Barajas-Suarez reflects on his journey from transfer student, to Humanities graduate, to current MAT candidate
May 11, 2023
"I transferred to UC Irvine from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa at the beginning of the 2020 school year. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time because of the pandemic, so I thought the best course of action was to stay close to home and be near family. Additionally, I was aware of UC Irvine’s amazing reputation of supporting first-generation immigrants and first-generation college students, of which I am both, and therefore I believe UC Irvine was the best choice for me. I began my journey at UC Irvine in the School of Humanities as a history major. At this point I was unsure of my desire to become a teacher. However, I did not want to forgo that opportunity and decided to add a 'Specialization for Future Teachers' designation to my history degree. This designation required that I take various classes in the School of Education which I truly believe changed the course of my entire life.
Transferring to a four-year university during a pandemic was difficult. It seemed like finding a community, making connections, and feeling like I was part of something would be impossible to do while sitting behind a screen. In my first quarter at UC Irvine, I took an Adolescent Development and Education course with Dr. AnneMarie Conley, who provided an incredibly welcoming and academically stimulating class through creative expression and peer interactions. This feeling of community reverberated throughout my time in the School of Education as an undergrad. I took various education courses focusing on Latiné youth, child development, education policy, and issues in public schooling. However, the class and professor that helped me make my decision to become an educator was Educational Strategies with Professor Susan Guilfoyle. This course taught me about how a teacher’s actions, both big and small, can have an enormous impact on a student’s education and can work to provide an equitable teaching environment. Again, I took this class during the pandemic but because of Professor Guilfoyle’s expertise in working with students, she created a learning environment full of collaboration, academic rigor, and most of all, community. Classes like these in the School of Education helped me find the welcoming community I searched for as a transfer student.
I graduated from the UC Irvine School of Humanities in 2022 but because of the amazing experience I had while taking courses in the School of Education, I decided to apply to the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Now, as a MAT student, the sense of community I felt as a transfer student in the School of Education continued. That sense of belonging is what inspired me to apply to the program. I never would have thought that I could be a graduate student in an education program, but because of the confidence I built thanks to the School of Education community, I am well on my way to becoming the best version of myself as an individual, a scholar, and a teacher."