It was during my undergraduate education at California State University, East Bay, when I experienced a wonderful math teacher named Professor Callahan. His teaching methods were simple, but effective. Professor Callahan's teaching style convinced me that teaching math ― a subject that many young students consider boring ― could be fun. He showed me that it's all about knowing how to engage students in the lesson and give them ownership over the problem.
My volunteer work at Pittsburgh High School in California deepened my interest in teaching. Working with minority students every day who were feeling defeated by societal stereotypes made me realize that my being an immigrant and minority made me a perfect role model for these students.
When looking at graduate schools in 2008, I was deciding between Seattle Pacific University and other two colleges. SPU is the farthest from where I live, but learning about the School of Education and the university's mission, "engaging the culture, changing the world," attracted me the most. That's a powerful statement for any educator, and it especially resonated with me – engagement in learning and holding on to my own I-Kiribati identity are important things in my life. (Kiribati, where I come from, is in the central Pacific, 1,400 miles south of Fiji.)
Dr. Richard Scheuerman (chair of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at SPU) made a lasting impression on me, thanks to the inspirational speeches he gave in class. "Crazy passion" is the phrase that he taught us about being successful teachers. He himself has a "crazy passion" for his job and I believe that all his students will be following in his footsteps.
The MAT program has given me the experiences and tools to succeed as a teacher. I learned about professional responsibilities both inside and outside of the classroom that I don't feel I would have received had I not been part of this program. This knowledge will prepare me for whatever the future brings.