BEd in Early Childhood/Early Childhood SPED Student
“I am grateful and overwhelmed by the support of my community for all of the scholarships offered because I will walk out of college completely debt-free.”
School of Teacher Education - Elementary; Special Education
What does it mean to be the recipient of a Dr. Niki Libarios #BeKindToAStudent Award?
To be a recipient of this award means to continue on Dr. Niki Libarios’ legacy of educating students with love, compassion, and kindness. It is an honor to receive this award knowing that Dr. Libarios touched hearts and changed lives as he served his community. As an aspiring educator, my hope is to go beyond the curriculum and inspire young learners to be kind to one another no matter their circumstances. If there is one lesson my students would learn from me once they walk out of my classroom doors, it would be to show kindness to themselves and to others every day. As a recipient of this award, I am grateful and inspired by Dr. Libarios’ kindness towards his students and the legacy he left behind.
How did you become interested in the field of education?
I found my passion in teaching while I was completing my senior project in high school. I had the opportunity to teach elementary school students to develop a variety of digital media skills in photography and video production at Pōmaikaʻi School. I was an Arts & Communication student for four years at Maui High School and wanted to incorporate digital media and student teaching in my project as I’ve always been eager to know what it would be like to work with young learners. I reflected on the experience and realized that I enjoyed teaching and making connections with the students more than pursuing digital media as a career, hence my interest in the field of education.
Briefly describe your road to college.
Despite being accepted to and offered scholarships at Pepperdine University and the University of Washington, I decided to stay in Maui because it was more practical considering my financial situation. I received my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College then transferred to UH Mānoa to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Throughout my journey, I have solely relied on financial aid and scholarships. I am grateful and overwhelmed by the support of my community for all of the scholarships offered because I will walk out of college completely debt-free.
Do you participate in any clubs/organizations in or outside of school?
I am a worship leader at my local church, Cornerstone Christian Church, where I sing and play the guitar. I also participate in the church’s ‘Ohana Group, a biweekly Bible study session where we learn about the bible and encourage one another through fellowship. Finally, I am a leader and member of InterVarsity Maui, a college campus ministry that hopes to inspire and bring people together through God’s love and His Word.
How has the COE program impacted or benefited your career path?
The COE program allowed me to build and strengthen professional relationships with both students and employers. Through my previous field placement at Grace Bible Preschool and currently at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary, I have been offered different job opportunities. I accepted an on-call position at Grace Bible Preschool and am currently completing a six-week substitute course online to be eligible to work as a substitute teacher at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary while I continue to pursue my degree in education.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue a teaching career?
My high school English teacher, Ms. Goldenberg, inspired me to pursue a teaching career. Though all of my high school teachers believed in my abilities, Ms. Goldenberg stood out because she reminded me to always stay true to myself and believed that I have a bright future ahead of me. She was patient, loving, and kind. I remember thinking to myself one day during class, “I want to be just like her someday.” She exemplified the type of teachers that our students need today: responsive, caring, and, in the spirit of the #BeKindToAStudent scholarship, kind. I am grateful and inspired by Ms. Goldenberg and hope that someday I can be a “Ms. Goldenberg” to my young students.
In the spirit of the #BeKindToAStudent scholarship, how will you pay it forward?
When I become a teacher, I want to incorporate my ability to speak Tagalog in the lessons I teach and embrace the beauty of cultural diversity, not just to the Filipinos but also to other cultures. I also want to provide scholarships to Filipino students who aspire to become teachers in Hawaiʻi someday. I believe that Filipinos are known for their hospitality, respect, and kindness towards others. These traits are indeed what teachers should be and what children need today.
Anything else you would like to include?
Thank you for highlighting my story and choosing me to be the recipient of a Dr. Niki Libarios scholarship! I am proud to represent Filipino educators through this award and hope that future teachers would be inspired to pursue a career in education.