For Garrett Kitamura, the decision to come to Oregon State had him following in many sets of footsteps.

“My parents married when they were students at Oregon State, my brother went to Oregon State,” he says. “It was something that was indoctrinated in me from a young age.” But it was visiting the university as a senior in high school and smelling “that great Willamette Valley air” that Garrett says sealed the deal.

“I realized this was the place I needed to be; in a really tight-knit community, a good kind of small-town campus feel, but on top of it all, high-quality education.”

Pursuing education runs in his family as well. “I come from 3 generations of educators on my mom’s side of the family,” he says. Hearing his family talk about their experiences teaching is what solidified Garrett’s interest in education.

Garrett graduated from Oregon State’s undergraduate Double Degree program this spring with degrees in English and Education. His future plans include leaving the classroom –  for now – to pursue a law degree that he hopes to one day use to benefit students.

He will begin studying at University of Virginia’s law school this fall. He says his time student teaching prepared him with skills relevant to any job. “Student teaching really helped me hone my ability to organize my thoughts and make very concise plans, while at the same time forcing me to improvise or think on my feet if things start crashing down.”

Garrett foresees himself working in the field of law that advocates for students rights, and hopefully one day returning to the classroom to teach.

“I want to be able to use my law degree to benefit students, and the education system. Whether that means bringing my knowledge into a classroom, or utilizing my experience to work on a litigating end on behalf of schools.”

Garrett says that many students in the College of Education struggle with the demanding course load that makes it difficult to hold part-time jobs and make additional income. “Something I think most people don’t even know when they’re entering the cohort is that the ability to bring in any sort of money on the side from a part time job is very impractical. In many cases impossible.”

“The joke people say is, ‘Oh, you went into teaching for the money, right?’ It’s not a high paying position, it’s something that people enter because they’re truly passionate,” he says.

“But at the end of the day, there are still bills that have to be paid.”



Josephine Stark’s interest in health education began with the desire to help her family live healthier. “Going through high school I never really learned much about health, personal health, or nutrition,” she says. Because she has a strong family history of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer, she’s made it her mission to educate students and her family about healthier living.

Josephine says that teaching students about proper nutrition and diet, as well as equipping them with the language to talk about their bodily and mental health, is key to supporting their lives and development.

The Double-Degree student majors in exercise sports science and education, inspired by ten years of playing softball growing up. “The things I’m learning through all my public health and exercise physiology classes have helped my life, and have helped my parents’ lives.”

Josephine chose Oregon State because it felt like home “I felt something walking across Memorial Union. I could see myself visually there, and see myself flourish. It was the only school I had that feeling with.”

Her interest in education began in an education practicum class here at Oregon State. Josephine had the opportunity to help a student rewrite a paper, taking him from an F to and A. “It just ignited something within me,” she says. “It made me feel like I can do something small that can impact him for the rest of his life, and that really drove me to put myself full forward into teaching.”


Josephine wasn’t just thinking about herself when she came to Oregon State. The first generation college student was thinking about her younger brother as well. “Not only am I working for myself,” she says. “I have to pave the path for my brother to let him know that he can do that too.”

In the future, Josephine hopes to give back in the classroom and beyond. After receiving her two bachelor’s degrees in 2019, Josephine has thoughts of getting a master’s degree and continuing her education with an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) endorsement.

“I really want to be able to work with second language learners because that’s really important for this country,” she says.

Josephine also hopes to help create more programs that give assistance to first generation college students, such as Oregon State’s TRIO program. She says that any kind of assistance is important to students like her as they face the mountain of fees standing between them and licensure. “It allows us to fully focus into our schooling and our teaching.”

Mathew Oldfield says the difficulties aspiring teachers face today boil down to one thing: money.

“Money is always on someone’s mind,” the Double-Degree student says. “And when money is on your mind, that means school isn’t.”

 

The one-time physics major is an expert at keeping school on his mind. Inspired by his first class at Oregon State, chemistry with Professor Richard Nafshun, he changed majors and threw himself into a new field of study. “Professor Nafshun just brought so much energy and excitement. I was immediately like, ‘OK, I’m not doing physics anymore, I’m doing chemistry.’”


Mathew says that changing majors didn’t daunt him. “I learned a long while ago that in order to pursue something you need to be interested in it, not good at it.”

 

He was drawn to the College of Education’s Double-Degree program so he could explore his new interest in chemistry and his older passion for teaching. In middle school, he helped his classmates learn grammar and spelling. In high school, he began taking over as substitute teacher in the band classroom as well.

 

An open fourth period his senior year of high school revealed his love of science education. “People would come in with problems in one of their science classes, whether it be physics, chemistry, or biology. I just got to sit there and help them.”

 

Despite suffering from “senioritus,” Mathew says that knowing he could help his friends at school invigorated him. “It was the one thing I looked forward to coming to school each day.”

 

Mathew gained even more teaching experience at Oregon State. This Spring concluded his second full year TAing for the chemistry department. His time TAing has had him drafting lesson plans, managing classrooms, and performing duties in the “Mole Hole,” the on-campus chemistry tutoring center.

 

Mathew will begin his student teaching at Lebanon High School this fall. While he enjoyed his experience TAing, he is excited to begin working with high schoolers. “I’m looking forward to working with the age group I want to spend my professional life teaching,” he says.

 

Mathew is confident that he’ll enjoy teaching at the high school level. “I have yet to find an age group that I don’t get along with,” he says. “I’ve worked with middle schoolers, I’ve worked with college students. It seems somewhere in all of this I missed out on working with high schoolers, which is what I plan to do for a living.”

 

Before Mathew can enter the classroom, however, he must put money back on his mind. Mandatory licensure fees, exam fees, and fingerprinting fees must be paid before Mathew can receive licensure.

 

He says that fee waivers for students would “help alleviate, even just a little bit, that particular stress and mental burden,” and allow students to focus more on their education.

 

“Those sort of fees, although not hidden, often feel that way when you’re presented them,” he says. Students who are already saddled with loans, debt, tuition, and rent feel that additional fees submerge them completely. “It [feels] like, the water’s already up to your neck,” he says. “Let’s just bring that up further so maybe you can breath through your nose.”

 

If you ask Brenda Contreras what her time at Oregon State has provided her, she’ll answer in one word: opportunities.

 

Opportunities such as scholarships, a chance to teach near her hometown, and experience in a dual-language classroom.

 

The former Oregon State psychology graduate is now finishing her first year in the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program in clinically based elementary. The two-year master’s degree program features courses delivered online through Oregon State Ecampus and in-person co-teaching experience in the Beaverton School District near Portland.

 

As part of the program, Brenda spends her days immersed in classrooms, gaining hands-on teaching experience. Each morning she looks forward to the start of the school day. “Greeting them at the door and setting up for the school day, that’s my favorite time,” she says.

 

Brenda didn’t originally envision herself as a teacher, but a part time job at a child care facility and her own positive experiences in her education helped her realize her love for working with children.

 

As a psychology major, Brenda considered herself to be “out of the loop” when it came to the many opportunities the OSU College of Education offers its students.

 

“It wasn’t until after  I started working in childcare that someone told me OSU had a really great teaching program,” she says. “I would go to restaurants in Corvallis and run into people who would tell me about the program.”

 

But it was more than strong community support that inspired Brenda to apply to the M.A.T. program.  

 

“When I learned Oregon State had a partnership with Beaverton School District, I was sold because it’s so close to home,” She says.  Now, Brenda teaches in classrooms less than ten miles from her hometown.

 

Her favorite subject to teach is math, although she also enjoys teaching reading, writing, art, and science, spending time in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) classrooms.

 

Since one of the school she teaches at also features Spanish dual-language immersion classes, where students are instructed in both Spanish and English, Brenda –  and the students she teaches – gain an additional layer of opportunities to explore.

 

“There’s a lot of research that shows this dual-language model helps ELL (English Language Learner) students,” she says.

 

The ELL students benefit from learning in their native language while also learning English slowly, over the course of their elementary education.

 

The dual language model also benefits students those who aren’t considered ELL. “They learn to read and write in Spanish,” she says. “It’s also more likely they will be bilingual growing up and in the future.”

 

The ELL program model at Brenda’s school begins in kindergarten with classes taught completely in Spanish, tapering off to 80 percent Spanish instruction in first and second grades, and finally settling into half Spanish and half English instruction in third grade.

 

Brenda is grateful for the many opportunities Oregon State has provided her, especially the partnership Oregon State has with local school districts.

 

“People [from Oregon State] are getting hired. People are making those connections in the school district and so many of them I know already have jobs.” she says.

 

She appreciates the diverse classrooms she’s been able to work in, and the wealth of experience the M.A.T. program has already provided her.

 

“I don’t get to work at just one school, I’ve worked at multiple schools at the district where I’ve seen different demographics and different school cultures,” she says. “I’ve made a lot of connections at all these schools, and it’s because of Oregon State.”

Julie Epton with her dog Raja

It’s never too late to continue education. Julie Epton went 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.”

By: Maia Farris

Fabiola: advisor
Fabiola Sandoval-Morado

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.

 

Larry Flick, Dean of the College of Education in his office

College of Education’s Dean, Larry Flick reflects on his past six years at OSU saying, he could not have remained in the role of dean for six years “if I did not have caring, committed people beside me all the way.” With spring term coming to an end and summer just around the corner, we are also saying our farewells to the retiring dean.

Larry assumed the dean position on July 1, 2011. He graduated from Purdue University as an engineer, and says that “OSU brought back many fond memories” such as being one of the editors for the Purdue student newspaper, the Exponent, as an undergraduate. Flick reminisces, “seeing the Student Experience Center go up on the OSU campus was very exciting! Orange Media is on the top floor of the beautiful building and I made a point of going for a look around as soon as it was done. The Exponent offices were in the basement of the Purdue Memorial Union, but I loved every minute of it.”

The job as a dean is very busy and sometimes challenging. Flick shares that, “this time in higher education is very challenging with universities facing an enormous amount of change.” Flick says that he is lucky to have had the “distinct pleasure of working with a very smart group of faculty and administrators in the college as we have worked to adjust to these challenges and changes in how colleges are funded.”  Flick adds that he has also “thoroughly enjoyed being among highly committed and talented people in the Provost Council and President’s Cabinet.”

After retirement, Flick and his wife are hiking in the Swiss Alps (this July) and traveling to Italy, Costa Rica, and Panama where they plan to go kayaking, snorkeling, and doing some more hiking, while enjoying some cultural experiences in the mix.

“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.”