As a primary school student in Salinas, Araceli Anaya struggled with classes because she and her parents didn’t speak much English.
Now in the process of completing her Masters of Education at UC Santa Cruz, Anaya hopes to become a kindergarten teacher so that she can help other young students in a similar situation.
Anaya is among the first 12 students to join the university’s new Latinx Initiative for Future Teachers (LIFT) program. The program allows participating students to complete a master’s degree in education and earn diplomas for teaching mathematics, science, multiple subjects, history or English in 12 months and benefit from a mentoring and financial support.
“I really want to improve,” said Anaya, a mother of five, aged 1 to 16.
As an institution serving Hispanics, UC Santa Cruz is constantly looking for ways to improve graduation rates and increase opportunities for Hispanic students to enter graduate programs and professional careers. high level.
“This is very important to the nation and extremely important to California,” said Cynthia Lewis, chair of the education department at UC Santa Cruz. The goal is for graduates of LIFT and the university’s teacher training program to work in schools and become the leading advocates for equity, social justice and anti-racism.
In 2018-2019, 61% of Kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers in California were white, with Hispanics making up the second largest percentage at 21%. The student body, on the other hand, was made up of 55% Hispanic and 23% white.
Soleste Hilberg, director of teacher education at UC Santa Cruz, said the program recognizes that the experience of Hispanic and white students can differ significantly, and works to correct this in the Master of Arts program. / diploma. From interviews with focus groups over the past three years, the program has learned the need for mentors for students of color. Everyone who participates in the LIFT program is matched with a mentor of color to help them navigate the teaching profession, Hilberg said. The program also uses speakers with successful backgrounds to speak to students.
Hilberg said his program has also reallocated its scholarship funds. Now, the program gives more money to those who are first generation students or who come from low-income families and demonstrate their commitment to the program’s mission, which is to prepare new teachers for a new California; teachers ready to become leaders of social justice.
“We are working hard to review our policies and practices to see how we might contribute to societal and systemic inequalities and to ensure fairness and justice for our students and their prospective students,” said Hilberg.
Some of LIFT’s students have enough support that they don’t need to take on other jobs while they complete the program, she said.
UC Santa Cruz’s higher education program is different from others as it accepts undocumented students. Usually, these are students who were brought by their families to the United States as children, but never became citizens. They are not allowed to get federal scholarships. So the university is finding other ways to help them get funds, like what is described above.
All students, including undocumented migrants, have no trouble finding employment after graduation, Hilberg said.
“Our students are in high demand,” said Hilberg.
This press release was produced by UC Santa Cruz. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.