At a young age, I struggled to understand the importance of school and education, as my reality comprised poverty and shelters. This new change, a combination of moving from shelter to shelter, dealing with recently divorced parents as a result of domestic violence, and having a mother who worked low-wage jobs to raise her three children on her own, was hard for me to adjust to. Education played an important factor in my childhood, as it was one of my saving benefactors. I could have easily been a statistic contributing to the rise of truancy, crimes, or even worse, death. Throughout middle school, I went to the after-school tutoring services, and then I would bus to the library, where I stayed until it closed.
With the availability of resources and overwhelming support from educators, mentors, and librarians, I was able to stay on track and placed in one of the most rigorous high schools in the city. The overwhelming support I have received from passionate educators, programs, and separate individuals became my driving force in my approach to teaching. I became close to the principals and teachers in my life who played a significant role in making sure I stayed focused on my studies, and in turn, I was truly touched and inspired to be a teacher who not only educates students but also assists those who are in need, like I once was.
My experience with working with underprivileged students was the wake-up call and push I needed to seek my Masters of Arts in Childhood Education. I walked into my second-grade class on my first day as an after school teacher with an uneasy heart and unsettled stomach. Some students were already seated; some were crawling on the floor; some were on the cabinets. With a clear and loud voice, I said one of the most common attention getters, “one, two, three, all eyes on me.” For a brief instant, I managed to introduce myself; however, the students quickly lost their attention and resumed their chatting. Within the first hour, I managed to take verbal attendance, but unfortunately, this was followed by some students shouting out profanity, two separate physical fights, one student crawling on the cabinets, one crawling under the tables, and another student throwing books. I struggled with this new situation—a change in the classroom dynamics—with student learning behaviors that suddenly felt unfamiliar. Having worked in this setting where behavioral issues dominated and negatively affected the students’ learning, I struggled to understand how I could teach them.
This struggle, however, developed into my passion and drive: to learn and culminate the skills needed to inspire students to develop a love for learning. I strive towards becoming an effective educator and leader in hopes of making a difference and creating change for our next generation by cultivating their passion and knowledge. With this degree, I could open endless doors of opportunity and inspire students to pursue their interests and initiate change within their communities.
We are proud to announce Cindy Chung is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.