It’s never too late to continue an education. Julie Epton came back to school to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be in the healthcare field or teach”, she says.
After running her own neuromuscular therapy business for seven years, Julie Epton is now following another dream of hers–teaching science. Currently, Julie Epton is pursuing a Master of Science in Education at Oregon State University’s College of Education.
About a year and a half ago, Epton moved to Oregon from Michigan and decided to pursue teaching. While living in Washington, D.C., Epton taught an array of sciences for two years in a public charter high school. It was this experience that made Epton want to earn her degree in the field where she always felt she belonged. She also felt that the STEM field “not only needs more women, but needs to support a diverse array of children to get more involved” in science and she believes that she “can fulfill this role by establishing equitable, inclusive classrooms that encourage all children in the practice of science.”
As a STEM educator, Epton believes that “a good STEM education teaches us how to think critically and question the world around us, and how to be smarter consumers of information and more responsible citizens.”
The progressive style of teaching in the Master of Science in Education program, centered on inquiring-based learning and discourse-oriented pedagogy, incorporates Epton’s belief of providing an engaging learning environment and developing critical thinking in students.
Epton loves the program’s focus on Ambitious Science Teaching and social justice, as she is “learning to create culturally relevant, equitable curricula that facilitates students actively engaging in scientific practices and collaborating with peers to develop deeper conceptual understandings.” She laments that her own K-12 education lacked this style of teaching, noting how well it melds active learning with critical thinking and cooperation to create a stimulating educational environment.
The ten month MSEd program is “fast and intense”, but Epton finds it very rewarding thanks to caring, supportive instructors, the student teaching experience at multiple schools, and the connections she has made with her cohort. Epton values the relationships made with her classmates and hopes to maintain a strong bond when everyone begins their first year of teaching. Epton has noticed that with this cohort structure, “[her] learning is greatly enhanced, and the work is exponentially more fun, when you have such a wonderful group [of people] around you.”
Fabiola Sandoval-Morado has triumphed over unbelievable challenges growing up as an undocumented citizen in extreme poverty and a culture where she was the only non-English speaker in her community. “[Growing up], I thought I had to give up my language and my culture to be successful”, Sandoval-Morado shares; but today, she sees that “being bilingual bicultural has given [her] many career opportunities”.
Originally from Uruapan, Michoacán in Central Mexico, Sandoval-Morado came to the United States with her mother, to join her father, who was already residing in Gary, Indiana. Arriving with no English-speaking background, she started kindergarten in the U.S. and remembers learning a lot of English from watching Sesame Street every morning. It was difficult for her to learn English as the only non-English speaker in her kindergarten class, in a school where bilingual education did not exist. Her parents did not want to raise any alarms about being undocumented by speaking spanish. As a result, they highly encouraged speaking English outside of the home, saying, “You are in America, you speak American!”
Sandoval-Morado felt torn between her two cultures, asking herself, “Am I Mexican? Am I American?”, and feeling like she was never enough of either. This torn mindset made her decision to become a citizen difficult. Ronald Reagan’s IRCA amnesty of 1986 gave her the opportunity to legitimize her status. She became a Legal Permanent Resident the Spring of her Junior year in High School, and she realized that college could be a reality for her. But it wasn’t until in 2008, that Sandoval-Morado decided to go through the process of becoming a citizen of the United States. She found it easy to pass the US History & Civics and English Language exams, stating that “even though I walked two cultures, my education has been in the United States.” Today, she has dual citizenship in the U.S and Mexico, embracing her two cultural identities.
After high school, Sandoval-Morado made the brave decision to leave her family and go to college in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she received her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Fine Arts. Raised in a single parent household by her mom, it was tough to leave because she was a second provider for her family and she felt very under-prepared as a first generation college student.
Growing up in the midwest, she agreed with the popular opinion that “multiculturalism is a detriment” and believed that she “needed to be more American to be accepted.” It wasn’t until after she graduated from Kalamazoo and started her graduate studies at Oregon State University, that her point of view changed entirely.
When Sandoval-Morado started her family, she had to stop her graduate studies and go to work to support her family. Finding a job as a Department of Human Services as a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (DHS TANF) worker made her realize that she could “embrace her multiple identities” in Oregon as a bilingual speaker and bicultural parent, helping families access Safety Net services.
Today, Sandoval-Morado has returned to Oregon State University as the Academic Advisor and Outreach Specialist. She is open about her story as a previously undocumented citizen in hopes that she can be an ally to students who may come from similar multicultural and multilingual backgrounds. Growing up feeling that she “needed to be more American to be accepted” is a statement Sandoval-Morado shares, that she still hears from students today, and she wants to help change that mindset. As an advisor and outreach specialist, she wants to share her student’s language, concerns of being away from home, and the understanding of having to balance family and the importance of getting an education.
Her experience working as a DHS TANF worker lends her the expertise in her current job as an outreach specialist for the College of Education while working with under-represented students in the community and state who are considering becoming a teacher. Growing up, there were no bilingual or bicultural teachers as role models, which made Sandoval-Morado feel that “she didn’t have a future in education”. Today, being bilingual bicultural has added value to her career in making connections with individuals on a more personal level. There is a great need for bilingual teachers in the country, and Sandoval-Morado is an advocate to those who are interested in being bilingual teachers. Bilingual and dual-immersion education increases the level of parent participation, understanding, and minimizes the gap in miscommunication when educators can speak the same language, while also increasing student success in and out of the classroom.
Sandoval-Morado believes that “Education is one of the biggest catalysts for social justice” and that it “brings out the best in a generation and creates what America is supposed to be.” Her goal for the College of Education surrounding this belief, is to increase the enrollment and retention support for underrepresented students in the College to match that of the University.
Sandoval-Morado has already submerged herself in our unique and diverse campus culture. She enjoys taking fitness and cardio classes, being a part of the DACA taskforce, and the Community Diversity Relationships group; all of which support “the mission of having a safe community regardless of where people come from.” Visit Fabiola Sandoval-Morado in Furman Hall and share your story, learn more about hers, and gain insight on how to become an educator.
Congratulations to Terry Adams, a senior instructor in the double degree program through the College of Education, who has been named the Professional Faculty Leadership Association’s June 2017 ‘Our Hero’ award by Life@OSU.
“Don’t be a teacher! It’s a lot of work and takes a lot out of you”, warned Keri Imada’s mother. “But as they say, teaching is a calling… and I heard that call”, says Imada.
Keri Imada was inspired by her mother, a hard-working educator who would dedicate her time to a job “she loved and carried an influential passion for”. This year, Imada is graduating from the College of Education’s Double Degree program with a Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) degree and an Education degree.
Imada has an experienced background in education. Starting at a young age she would help her mother in the classroom on the weekends with her sister, saying, “the empty hallways was our playground!” In high school, Imada enjoyed tutoring “several middle students and…creating activities to help them with their studies.”
She was surprised that she ended up in Oregon for college, since she “grew up in Hawaii and I didn’t plan on coming to the mainland for college.” But one day she applied to OSU and got accepted. Imada is very happy she came to OSU since it has “given [her] insight to the world beyond the shores of Hawaii” where she was able to meet so many new people and learn so many new things. “I wouldn’t trade my experience here at OSU for anything”, says Imada.
Imada shares that her last few years in the Education program were busy due to student teaching and classes saying, that the “days were long…after teaching all day, I come home and work on papers.” In the program, she enjoyed her HDFS classes “full of amazing information” and making “new friends that have the same passion and love for education that I do.” Although it has been a busy last few years, Imada says, “It has been a long journey, but one that I am proud to have walked down.”
After graduation Imada is hoping to find a teaching position in the Beaverton or Hillsboro school district. Imada says, “I love Corvallis, but I am ready for another adventure.” She is excited (and nervous) to have her own classroom and implement her own style of teaching. Imada “hopes to help shape the future by touching the lives of the students that come through [her] classroom and helping [them] advance towards a brighter future.”
Suzette Savoie found a spark in her teaching talents while working as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Wyoming teaching Physical Geography. As an undergraduate, she was also mentoring kids and found that she is able to make great relationships with them. At Oregon State, she was able to “combine [her] passion for science and mentoring” through completion of the Master of Science in Education program this year.
Originally from Alabama, Savoie “moved out west for the mountains”; and her love for camping and trout fishing definitely fit into the Oregonian culture. Savoie has enjoyed her time at OSU going to a few baseball games, taking a stained-glass class at the craft center and attending some science talks as well. Her last few years of school, she admits, were “quite accelerated and tough; however, I had a great support group in my peers, professors, cooperating teachers, friends, and family which helped me tremendously in sticking it through to the end.”
Through her prior experience and her time at OSU, Savoie discovered a key to building authentic relationships with students. “I think that having a great sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself is key to becoming a successful teacher. Having strong skills in empathy and compassion are also essential in teaching,” she shared.
After graduation, Savoie plans on being a middle school science teacher. Although Savoie is nervous about the state of the U.S. education system, she still says, “I’m excited about beginning this new chapter in my life where I help to inspire kids to be curious about science.”
After five years of dedication, Allison Dorko is graduating this spring with a PhD in Mathematics Education. Dorko recognized her passion for teaching while she was working on her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and Physical Education from the University of Maine. Later on, she got her Master’s in Mathematics Education in Maine and “fell in love with the research component” which inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. “in order to do more research and teach college mathematics.”
While at Oregon State, Dorko added a Bachelor’s of Mathematics to her studies before working on her PhD. She especially enjoyed her last two years in the PhD program working with the STEM Club (which is part of the FIESTAS project) at Lincoln and Garfield elementary schools in Corvallis, OR. Dorko says “it is a lot of fun to do maths and science with children and to help the Education majors [in the College of Education] learn how to make maths and science exciting” and “we [even] do maths with Legos!”
Dorko’s years as a student have been busy and she advises other graduate students about the importance of getting enough sleep because “when you’re sleep-deprived, your brain simply doesn’t function well.”
After graduation, Dorko is moving to Oklahoma where she has landed a job as an Assistant Teaching Professor. There, she will “coordinate and supervise their college algebra program, teach mathematics, and do research.” Dorko says, “it’s a great job and I’m excited about it… I’ve heard Oklahoma has amazing storms [and] I’m looking forward to seeing some of those.” Dorko has enjoyed her time here in Corvallis, but she is excited to move on to the next step in her career, “being a faculty member instead of being a student.”
Graduate Student Stories- Program: Community College Leadership
Bruce Hattendorf’s final years of school have been challenging, but his hard work and determination has paid off and he is graduating from the Community College Leadership (CCL) program this year. Hattendorf began his work in the education field as a tenured English professor before being asked to step into a role as an Associate Dean of Instruction. “I had no administrative experience or training at the time”, says Hattendorf, “so I enrolled in the CCL program to develop professionally and also to get a degree that would allow me to advance my administrative career in the future.”
Hattendorf was attracted to the OSU program saying, “I am very committed to the community college mission and OSU had one of the few higher education leadership programs that focused specifically on my area of interest.” He also found at “doing the program and learning a new job that was directly related to the program simultaneously, was a great way to learn.”
As a distance student, Hattendorf says that the most valuable experience was “the cohort interaction, both at Silver Falls and online [because] the cohort provided great friendships and terrific professional contacts.”
While in the program, one of the challenges was being able to “balance work, school, and life” because “it meant putting a lot of my personal life on hold – or at least scheduling things more carefully.” Hattendorf was very busy due to “working full time and [becoming] a full Dean at that point”, and yet his determination pressed on—listening to advice from a former OSU student who had completed the same program, “to take three weeks off at Christmas and lock [himself] in a room and write”, Hattendorf did just that, using vacation time during school breaks to get the work done.
After graduation, Hattendorf plans to continue his current job as Dean for Arts and Sciences at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington and with the pressure of his dissertation lifted, he hopes to have more time to enjoy hiking and traveling with his wife and dogs, as well as being more involved in community arts and practicing his creative writing again. Hattendorf is optimistic about the education field, saying that “the thing about education, whether it’s in the classroom or at the administrative level, is that we can always find ways to get better at what we do, and I find that exciting and engaging.”
Bruce Hattendorf is graduating from the Community College Leadership (CCL) program this year and will continue to work as the Dean for Arts and Sciences at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. Hattendorf shares what he thinks about education: “the thing about education, whether it’s in the classroom or at the administrative level, is that we can always find ways to get better at what we do, and I find that exciting and engaging.”
-People of CoEd- This is Karla Rockhold. She is one of the advisors in the College of Education. With spring term being a busy time of the year, don’t forget that advisors are always here to help! Make an appointment with her if you have any questions. Karla is a great advisor, always positive, and works hard to answer any and all questions you may have. Call 541-737-4661 to make an appointment today!