I have always known that I wanted to be doctor but when the time to graduate from UC Davis was coming in Spring of 2013, I knew I wasn’t ready yet – something was missing. It was in the same month that a Teach for America recruiter approached me and asked me to reflect on my own educational experience. What had brought me here? What was my own experience in the classroom? I couldn’t name a teacher that had made a significant impact on my life—I had made it to college but was completely unprepared. I knew that I needed to give the next 2 years of my life in service to my community. I wanted to become the teacher that I wish I always had—one that would care for me and push me to grow.
When David entered my classroom, I had heard stories of his behavior. Underneath his jokes, I knew David was seeking attention—he just desired to be heard. I worked to build a relationship with David (and it wasn’t easy) but I continued to be patient and over time David began to meet me halfway. If you asked him at the beginning of the year, he would say Science was his least favorite subject. His grade improved from an F to a B in one semester- and one afternoon, he randomly walked into my classroom and said, “Ms.Nguyen, you are the only teacher who has made a great impact on me.” There has never been any moment that David had doubts about my expectations of him and my high opinion of his ability to grow but in the moment- I also realized the importance of my work and that I am making a difference and learning too.
Thinking back, I asked myself, “How did I know what to do?” My answer came down to the fact that I had made a deep commitment to all my students. I prioritized developing genuine relationships with my students so they could have a teacher that I wish I had. I committed myself to find ways to equip my students with everything they would need to succeed academically and to help them adopt perseverance and good work ethics. My students joke about how hard my class is but it’s because I know that the stakes are high. What they learn in my class, they will be able to apply to any career or passion that they choose to explore. All dreams will be difficult to achieve and you may lack support or resources to help get you there. But I know that it is still possible.
My student knows that my biggest dream is to pursue medicine. By sharing with them my passion, I need my students to also be motivated to pursue their own dreams. The need of our community is so deep so we need all leaders to contribute. I hope to help students recognize for themselves their potential and everybody else to see our youth for who they are. I am a proud STEM teacher. I am responsible for showing all my students that education will allow them to pursue their life goals. And hopefully, they will be inspired and feel the need to come back and better the same community that they come from too.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Davis - Bachelor of Science, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Graduate Degree: Loyola Marymount University - Master of Arts, Administration and Public Policy
Reading, walking my dog, volunteering