In a matter of speaking, my major chose me. A master’s in special education was something that originally had never even crossed my mind. In 2014, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor in media arts. A year later, I was offered a job as a summer camp counselor at a nonprofit called Arts for All. It was an arts center that offered various programs for adults with disabilities and kids with mixed abilities.
After a few months, I was offered the opportunity to start teaching my own classes in film studies, even though I had no teaching experience or training. But I jumped at the opportunity, and soon, I was teaching film and dance classes for both adults and children. This is when I discovered I had a talent and a passion for teaching. Unfortunately, the nature of the arts center as an after-school program for kids offered little opportunity to work full time, and I had to take on a second part-time job to support myself.
I got a job as a TA in a special education classroom at a middle school. I loved it, but, sadly, it was only for a temporary position. In 2017, I got a job working in a studio at a news station. Although it was an exciting opportunity at first, I quickly discovered there was little chance for a long-term position in the studio. The future of television news is swiftly shifting to automated technology, eliminating the need for personnel to operate equipment. However, teaching was something that I could see myself doing as a long-term career. I did my research, and I found an accelerated master’s program in special education at my alma mater. And that is how I found my major.
One of the biggest obstacles that I had to overcome while working at Arts for All was being forced to learn quickly and without prior experience how to teach. Planning curriculum, writing lesson plans, managing a classroom, and also working with people that have different learning abilities and physical limitations. I’ve acquired a good amount of experience, and I still have much to learn. This master’s program is going to give me the education and training that I need to work outside of an art’s setting and in an academic setting.
After completing this master’s program, I will not only graduate with a master’s degree in special education but I would be certified to teach in an Arizona school. For me, this would mean the opportunity to work a full-time job in special education as either a lead teacher or program coordinator and have a job with longevity. But, most importantly, I’ll have a job that is rewarding to me.
I’ve been privileged so far to work with kids of different backgrounds and special needs in my community. I’ve grown to care deeply for those kids, and I want to be a teacher because I want to be a part of their growth, their academic success, and their education for many years to come.
We are proud to announce Victoria Reyes is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.