This award makes me feel seen in my passion and enthusiasm for science education. It also makes me feel really appreciative of my family, especially my partner, whose support has made it possible for me to focus on work and school for the last few years so that I could pursue a teaching career.
What inspired you to pursue science education as a career?
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a number of experiences that cultivated my love of science. I had the opportunity to go to museums, extracurricular math and science classes, star talks, and nature reserves. From a young age, I knew I wanted to study science in college, and I had a number of incredible math and science professors in community college and at UC Davis who encouraged me to pursue research and a career in teaching. Working as a math and science tutor at a high school for the last two years affirmed my decision to pursue a career in the classroom.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I hope to find myself in the classroom and in a position where I get to serve Black and Brown, 2SLGBTQIA+, disabled, and other marginalized students who are underrepresented in science and are unable to see themselves in the faces, backgrounds, and lived experiences of their teachers. I would also love the opportunity to support youth in engaging in scientific research and citizen science as a means of contributing to and uplifting their communities.
How has your educational journey influenced the kind of teacher you would like to be in the future?
My own educational journey was not straightforward. I became disabled as a teen because of a virus and, as a result, I didn’t experience much of high school for myself. I don’t even have a high school diploma—I have a certificate of proficiency instead. My undergraduate career spanned across a total of ten years, during which I experienced college as a disabled student, a low income student, and a student parent. My own experience navigating an institution that was not designed to serve students like me pushes me to want to be an equitable, culturally responsive, and even an abolitionist teacher.
I studied entomology and, like in other science disciplines, it’s not often mentioned who the actual people are that are contributing to the body of knowledge and doing the research, and the implications of this. While at UC Davis, I attended an Entomology and Nematology Department seminar where the visiting professor and researcher began his presentation by talking about diversity. This specific experience was so exciting and impactful to me, and it showed me that explicitly embracing diversity in the science education is something others are out there doing and is something that I can do too.
Working as a science teacher in particular gives me the perfect opportunity to embrace diversity in the classroom. As we study the natural world around us, we can see an amazing diversity of plants, animals, microbes, and geological features. Our vast and ever-changing universe has billions of stars, planets, and galaxies which all interact with each other to produce stunning space phenomena. Atoms can be arranged in an endless number of ways to produce structurally and functionally unique chemical compounds. Even within the human body, there are so many different cells and proteins that each play an important role in supporting the body as a whole. When we look at, say, a community of insects in a particular ecosystem, it is easy enough to recognize the many critical contributions that each and every different species makes to the functioning and health of the environment. In the same way, each and every student provides unique and invaluable contributions that support the functioning and health of our community.
What is one thing in your life that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I finished my bachelors and made it to grad school at all. I didn’t always expect to get to work in science or education, and I am so glad that I ended up where I did, because I love getting to live in both worlds and I am so excited for my future as a science teacher.