Genesis Alondra Rodriguez Araiza has been awarded the President’s Educator Fellowship during the UCI School of Education 2018-2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony. Genesis is pursuing her Multiple Subject Master of Arts in Teaching. Below, she shares her thoughts about her academic journey.
I grew up in Santa Ana in a small living room with my mother and two older sisters. My mother earned $11-13K per year, but I did not realize we were so poverty-stricken because I always had some sort of food on the table, even if it was just a tortilla roll with salt and sprinkled water. Although our stomachs were often empty, our hearts were always full.
I’d like to say that my mother valued education and pushed us to go to school and reach the American Dream. The truth is she only pushed us to go to school because it was the law, and she feared the risk of deportation. La migra viene por ti, she would tell me.
My experience in education was not all that great. My teachers showed they did not care if we succeeded and usually put us down for any wrong step we took. I was young, but I already felt concerned and powerless for our situation. English literacy and behavior was all my education was focused on. Many of us struggled so much with both that we felt discouraged in our ability to learn. This also happened many times in my experience working with children in an after school program. Several of these students carried the stigma and label that marked them as children who could not behave and therefore could not learn. If given the chance, however, the students showed brilliance.
I was able to develop a love for learning almost by accident. Not every student gets so lucky. I think back to all my classmates and the students I worked with. What if there was a teacher in their path that showed them the value of learning? Becoming a teacher will allow me to give students the opportunity to learn. My aim is to empower students to overcome the stigma and labels that they carry, and to develop confidence in their ability to learn. My purpose is to serve the underprivileged community. My purpose is to become the teacher they are worthy of.
Genesis Rodriguez and Multiple Subject Coordinator Susan Toma-Berge