I attended school in the Duarte Unified School District from K-12. I was never much of a social person, so I spent most of my time in classrooms or in the library/textbook room. I would gladly spend my free time assisting teachers setting up their classrooms or prepping stuff. I’ve always enjoyed helping others whenever possible.
During my middle school years, my love for mathematics started to grow. I’ve always found it to be an interesting subject and I always had some enjoyment solving complicated problems. My fellow peers would ask for assistance when they didn’t understand how to solve a certain problem and I would gladly accept. The more I helped in tutoring them, the more I felt wanting to become a mathematics teacher. During this time in middle school, I also decided to call myself Steve. At first, I called myself Bob, but I did not like the way Bob sounded. I then chose Steve and that name stuck to me to this day.
In my high school years, I still had a love for mathematics and still enjoyed tutoring others in that subject. Aside from tutoring others, I began to do more things with my time. I joined several clubs and extracurricular activities. I did a lot of volunteering, joined the video productions club which helped me realize my love for creating videos and editing, and became treasurer for the schools Interact Club and Solar-Boat team. Joining the Solar-Boat team I would say was an important part of my life. Aside from getting the experience of building a boat that runs on solar energy, joining the club helped me get the job I have today. At the end of my sophomore year, I started working for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation at a local park.
Working at that park allowed me to do a bit of everything that I love. I started off assisting in their summer camp and after school program, Parks After Dark program, and other events they had for the community. As the years went on, with supporting staff and supervisors, I was able to create my own programs and even took lead of several other programs they have. I noticed some of the kids were struggling in certain subjects, so I created a Tutoring Club where whoever needed extra help was able to come and get it. I created a Video Game Club where anyone was able to come and play games, socialize, and able to play the top trending games. Video Productions Club was another club I started that I hope to expand one day. During one of the years, I noticed the kids were interested in praying mantises. They came up to me and started asking all these questions and because of that, I decided to do a weekly activity called Discovery Wednesdays. During this time, I would ask the kids what they were interested in and I would do a lesson/activity around that interest. From all this, I realized that I enjoyed helping/teaching kids as well as giving them different types of opportunities. I enjoyed building upon their interest and teaching them new things. During this time, and after I graduated high school in 2014, I was a full-time student at the UC Irvine.
Going into UC Irvine my goal was still to become a math teacher. However, as mathematics become more theory based, my interest in mathematics dwindled. By the end of my 3rd year, I changed majors from Mathematics to Educational Sciences. Since I was still working at the park and I had an interest in staying, I decided to specialize in children's learning and development and afterschool programming. Fortunately, during my time as a Mathematics major, I was part of the CalTeach program. Being in the CalTeach program, I was able to get the experience of working in a classroom and creating my own lesson plans. I took several of their classes on children development and learned some new tips and skills on teaching children and classroom management. I was able to take everything that I learned from the CalTeach program and apply it at my job.
I am still working for the L.A. County at that same park. However, with my love of educating others, helping others, and giving opportunities to others, I play a bigger role. I am the lead in our after-school and summer program. I plan out fun and engaging STEAM (Science, technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) activities/lessons for the participants. I am also on the committee for our ESTEAM (Environment, Science, technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Summer camps. Similar to STEAM but with a greater focus on the environment. I assist in the planning of the curriculum for the 8-week program that 18 L.A. County parks are implementing. In making sure that all parks have the necessary tools and materials to successfully run their ESTEAM summer program, I created the ESTEAM Maker Space Cart. With the Maker Space Cart, campers will be able to express themselves and be able to find new interests as well as explore different topics within the STEAM field. The carts will allow students to be creative and innovators, to think outside the box, and to challenge themselves in ways they haven’t before.
Saying that, at my own park I am also part of those in charge of creating an Innovation Lab. With the most up to date technology, 3D printers, projectors, animation and video software, the innovation lab will be a place where anyone can come and become innovators. Where they come in with an idea and can successfully plan out and make it happen.
I look forward to what the future brings. To see how the ESTEAM Summer Camps run, how the Innovation Lab comes to be, how my current clubs and programs expand, and how my after-school program expands to a STEAM after school program next year. To make a difference in children’s lives and to provide new experiences to those in the community, are things I strive for.
I’d like to thank my family, UC Irvine, all my friends (those that are and those that were), and my supervisors for making it possible to be where I am today.