Tina Thi Huynh-Nguyen
PBCTE-Secondary “Grow Our Own” Student
"I believe that I am a changemaker and leader in my community; therefore, I am interested in investing in the next generation of environmental stewards... My experiences as a first-generation college student, researcher, volunteer, mentee, and mentor have provided me unique opportunities to lead."
Institute for Teacher Education - Secondary
- Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Secondary Education (PBCTE, Secondary)
What is your current program?
BS in Global Environmental Science / Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Teacher Education
Where do you work?
I work at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School as a substitute teacher for multiple subjects. I also work at the Atherton YMCA as a co-teacher for the Learning Loss Prevention Program in Kalihi where I am responsible for creating and implementing ELA/Math curriculum for K–8th grade students.
How did you become interested in the field of secondary education?
Everything connects back to a larger picture, which is sustainability. I believe that I am a changemaker and leader in my community; therefore, I am interested in investing in the next generation of environmental stewards. Hawai‘i is the place I call home, and I envision a future where it is an independent, self-sustaining state. That is the legacy, I believe, we as a community can create right now.
Describe your road to college.
I started at Kapiʻolani Community College where I received my AS in Biological Science and a Marine Option Certificate. Initially, I was set on entering the field of business because I felt that was the wisest option to take coming from a low-income family. However, internships and experiences with The Coral Reef Bleach Watch and Our Project in Hawaiʻi’s Intertidal (OPIHI) helped me recognize my interest in STEM.
I enrolled in the BS in Global Environmental Science because it was not a traditional pathway, but a curriculum rigorous in technical writing and presentation, computer programming, math, and science. And after a couple of independent research projects and internships, I came to acknowledge my passion for teaching people about caring for the environment.
I am incredibly fortunate that both SOEST and the COE recognize the need for qualified STEM professionals in the field of education and have opened the dual BS Global Environmental Science/Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Teacher Education for students like me to become science educators for the children of Hawaiʻi.
Why did you select the UHM COE?
I chose the UHM COE because of the good words and positive responses from my peers who are in the COE. I strongly believe that the COE trains teachers to be the leaders of today and prepare us well for our profession.
What does the Grow Our Own initiative and stipend mean to you?
I am grateful for the generous support provided by the Grow Our Own initiative and stipend. It truly enables me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. Spring 2022 will be the semester when I can proudly say that I am the first from my entire family to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and post-baccalaureate certificate to teach science. My time in the program is full of memories and relationships that support my goal of being a lifelong learner. As I pursue this line of work, I believe that this profession and its endeavors honor the state motto, ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono, the life of the land is preserved in righteousness. The support of my community made it possible to fulfill this purpose. I hope to repay this kindness by leading the next wave of wise environmental stewards in Hawai’i.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired/inspires you to pursue teaching as a career?
Essential qualities, such as integrity, hard work, and resilience, cannot be bought or taught. To thrive in this world, we must achieve those qualities. The person I would like to thank for molding and shaping my character is Mackenzie M. Manning. Without her, I would not be the scientist and scholar I am today. Mackenzie is an associate professor in Biology and Marine Biology at Kapi‘olani Community College. She offered structural support inside and outside of the classroom. Under her mentorship, I pursued and presented numerous marine conservation research projects. I can still recall those special moments at Maunalua Bay, where Mackenzie and my family came out to help collect algae samples. It made me realize the significance of my contributions. Since then, I have continued to be a critical thinker for the community to address our local issues.
What are your plans after graduation?
My experiences as a first-generation college student, researcher, volunteer, mentee, and mentor have provided me unique opportunities to lead. As an aspiring science educator for the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, I strive to be that leader for my community.