My interest in teaching started when I was a teenager, when I was inspired by my wonderful high school biology teacher. Particularly, the class projects she used to illustrate concepts were inspiring, and got the entire class excited about the subject. This excitement about science lasted through my years studying undergraduate chemistry and biology, and into a master's degree in biotechnology. Most commonly, a science undergraduate pursues either graduate school, or some type of medical professional coursework, (doctors, nurses, or pharmacists). This was my original plan; to finish my undergraduate degree, and then go on to do a PhD. But after working as a teaching assistant during my master's degree, I realized how much I enjoyed working with my students and encouraging them to pursue and work hard in science.
I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, College Park in biochemistry and cell biology in 2008. Immediately following this I started my Master's degree in Biotechnology at University of California, Irvine. The first year of my Master's mainly involved classroom instruction, as well as lab courses, during which my colleagues and I learned and practiced complex techniques required to conduct research. The second year of graduate school, I was able to pursue my own research and also work as a teaching assistant. I worked in Dr. Dana Aswad's biochemistry lab, analyzing and separating proteins from mouse brains. I also taught a discussion section in the introductory Genetics course. As a TA, my responsibilities were to review material covered in lecture, and hold one office hour every week for my students to come in and ask my assistance in understanding any of the difficult topics being covered in class. Because of how much I enjoyed teaching discussion, I went beyond what was expected of me, and extended my office hours, often conducting exam reviews. Sometimes there were students from other sections who would attend my office hour because of my accessibility as a teacher. This gave me immense satisfaction, and it became clear to me that a career as a high school teacher would be fitting for my personality and interests.
As my master's program came to an end, I applied and received admission to a teacher credential program at UCI which I was planning to enter starting in the fall of 2010. It was during this time that I discovered I was pregnant. My husband was also a graduate student. Given this, and because of many other factors from childcare, to the desire to bond with my child I decided I needed to stay at home with my son, and put my career plans on hold.
In 2011 spring I started tutoring, as it provided me with flexible hours, and enabled me to nurture my newborn. For 4 years I tutored chemistry, AP chemistry, Biology, Algebra, and some environmental science for high school students. Again I discovered the love I had for sparking scientific interest in a young student, and watching their faces light up as they understood a concept they had seen as difficult. Tutoring students was especially satisfying since I was able to cultivate a one-on-one rapport with the students, enabling me to cater my teaching to their needs. Some students were well prepared and knew exactly what they needed help with, while others needed me to comb through their notes and figure out what to cover during our sessions. Either way, I often succeeded in helping them improve in their grades and confidence in class. Tutoring has also helped me solidify my understanding of scientific concepts and has also enabled me to grasp the order of instruction chemistry, and biology at the high school level.
I still plan to pursue a career in full time teaching, and attain my teacher credential. But for now, as I watch my own children grow up, tutoring is a wonderful way for me to do what I love and have the flexibility to be at home with my young children.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Maryland-College Park - Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Graduate Degree: University of California-Irvine - Master of Science, Biotechnology
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