Natalie Lopez has been awarded the President’s Educator Fellowship during the UCI School of Education 2018-2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony. Natalie is pursuing her Single Subject Master of Arts in Teaching in Science. Below, she shares her thoughts about her academic journey.
My name is Natalie Lopez and I recently graduated UCI as an undergrad this past Winter of 2018. I am a first-generation college student who had to overcome lots of challenges caused by racism and stereotypes against Hispanics. I grew up in a low-income household in the Southeast LA area, where danger was present in my neighborhood and school at all times. During and after high school, I volunteered in helping students from my neighborhood become knowledgeable and apply to colleges and universities. This is where I got my passion for helping students from disadvantaged and poverty-stricken backgrounds.
While helping these students apply to college, I realized that the majority of students from my own high school, and surrounding schools, did not think that they “had what it took” to get accepted to college, or that they simply “weren’t good enough.” By simply planting a small seed of hope and making them realize that they had the opportunity if they wanted it, either as a citizen or as a Dreamer, many students who would otherwise not even attempt going to college, have graduated with at least an A.A. from a community college and many have even continued to get their bachelors from an accredited university.
At this point, I realized that minority and low-income students often have these beliefs about themselves because of others viewing them as having deficits and not being capable of achieving the same as “a typical American.” But what really does that mean? If America was built as a diverse nation, and the land of opportunity, why should privilege for only a small percentage exist? With all my personal experiences and all that I witnessed, I decided I wanted to teach science in order to empower all my students into success. When I was accepted to UCI for their M.A.T. program for a Secondary Teaching Credential, I was overjoyed at having the opportunity to accomplish my dream. I am hoping to use my teaching position to support students into learning science despite their background or sex. I am hoping to start to shift science teaching from the old traditional teaching to the new innovated NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) teaching styles. I am grateful for UCI for giving me this opportunity.
Natalie Lopez and Single Subject Coordinator Acacia Warren