“CalTeach also taught me how to be a leader.”

Linda Ly, 2015 CalTeach Graduate

I entered UCI not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I started out as a biology major with intentions to do something in the medical field; however, I discovered I wasn’t too fond of how competitive the major was or the lack of community available to me. I had been tutoring a friend in math and helping others with webworks (my friend had told me how much she liked my clarity and enthusiasm for math). I really enjoyed math, so I changed my major to math.

In my second quarter at UCI, I enrolled in a CalTeach course, Physical Sciences 5. I had so much fun learning, and for the first time in my college career I felt accepted and found myself growing as a student, a teacher, and a person.

CalTeach changed my thinking. My friends all thought they knew me as someone who does not like little kids. I thought so myself until I did fieldwork in the three CalTeach locations: elementary, middle, and high school. I enjoyed being in these classrooms so much that I often did more hours than I was assigned.

My experiences in CalTeach taught me to be patient and understanding. CalTeach also taught me how to be a leader. I never thought I would care so much about education and the students. As someone who has always been shy and reserved, I surprised myself by standing up for Common Core and for these wonderful students some have dubbed “terrible and immature.” Through my fieldwork and student teaching, I found myself becoming a counselor and a mentor as I realized how much these kids go through while they are trying to find their identity.

Although CalTeach can be physically and mentally exhausting, it is extremely rewarding. Not only did CalTeach shape me into a better person, it also provided me a home. As a commuter, it was hard for me to make friends and even to feel accepted. CalTeach changed all that. CalTeach students and teachers are so supportive, and I made so many friends who shared the same passion and were going through the same struggles I was experiencing. Even those times when I thought about giving up, my CalTeach friends never let me feel alone. We became a family as we struggled with our EdTPAs and vented to each other on our Facebook group chat.

I have learned that forming a close relationship with your colleagues is so important. Clubs, sports, and fraternities have been key features of college for some, but for me, it was the CalTeach program.

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