MEd in Curriculum Studies: STEMS²
Where do you work?
I am a mathematics lecturer at UH West O‘ahu and Leeward Community College
How did you become interested in STEMS²?
One of my mentors, Esther Widiasih, knew I was in search of a master’s program that would suit my interests, so she sent me the STEMS² brochure. My interest in the program grew because place-based education seemed like a very interesting pedagogy, and I eventually applied for the program.
What was the best part of the program for you?
The best part of the program was the learning journeys. One of the moments I will always remember was sitting above Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and taking in the view and mana of the area. We went up there in silence, and it was such a chicken-skin moment. While that is only one moment of many learning journeys, every single one taught me something new about culture or teaching, and as someone who was yearning to learn about his culture, this program really helped fulfill a void that I had for the majority of my life. Learning to teach from a place-/culture-based perspective was icing on the cake.
How have the people and the program in the COE helping you along with your career?
I still keep in touch with some of the classmates I was close to throughout the program. Learning about their experiences post-STEMS² keeps me inspired to do more as a teacher.
Also, aside from being some of the strongest sources of knowledge, all three of the instructors from my cohort – Tara O’Neill, Eō Kukahiko, and Daniel “Bubba” Lipe – have continued to advise me after the program about different pathways I could pursue for furthering my teaching education. Because of their advice and encouragement, I have applied to the PhD in Curriculum Studies program.
In what ways do you hope to make a difference using the knowledge you have gained?
At this current moment, I intend to use the knowledge that I am gaining to help the Hawaiian community continue their higher education. UH West Oʻahu has the highest percentage of Native Hawaiian students of any university at 29% as of 2017, so I see a large amount of Native Hawaiians. Since I teach the graduation requirement math class, many students come into my class with a complete lack of confidence in the subject. Some are even on their fourth or fifth attempt to pass the class, and this math class is their largest bump in the road for these students. If I can continue to expand my knowledge, I will be able to teach these students more effectively, and these students will be able to successfully move on with the rest of their four-year degree.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are to pursue my PhD and then reevaluate my career depending on how my pursuit of a PhD goes. My future career plans in the meantime are to continue my teaching at UH West Oʻahu so that I can move up the ranks and hopefully be involved in the conversations for place- or culture-based math classes in the future.