Post-Bac Certificate and MEd in Special Education

Cory smiling with long brown hair and a blurred background

“I completed my degree while raising three children and working full-time. It was not always easy, but it was doable and I felt supported every step of the way.”


Garden Grove, CA


Special Education

Related Degrees

  • MEd, SPED: Interdisciplinary
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Special Education (PBSPED)

Where do you currently work?
I am currently working as a Special Education Teacher/Teacher of the Deaf at Kīhei Elementary school on Maui.

How did you become interested in special education?
Working in the emergency medical field, prior to becoming a teacher, I saw the many inequities that individuals with disabilities face. When I returned to college to pursue a second career, I learned about special education and Deaf education through my coursework at the University of California, Northridge.

Why did you choose to pursue this program?
I chose to attend UH because I believe teachers should have a deep understanding of the community and the students they serve. The COE at UH Mānoa emphasizes the importance of place-based, aina-based learning and respect for host culture.

What was the best part of the program(s) for you?
The best part of the Post Bac program for me was being able to work as an emergency hire while I was taking courses. I was able to apply what I was learning immediately to my own classroom and teaching practices. The best part of the MEd program was that I had the opportunity to be reflective and learn more about myself as an educator. During the program I was able to explore and fall in love with instructional design. I now have the confidence to make informed, researched based, decisions that support the individualized needs of my students.

What advice or recommendations would you give to someone who is interested in this program?
If you are planning to live and teach in Hawaiʻi, there is no better place to start. No mainland based school can compete with the rich cultural experience that UHM provides alongside its accredited academic programs.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference using the knowledge you have gained?
I hope that the students in my classroom know that they are safe, accepted, and valued members of our campus. I want them to leave school with a deep understanding of their strengths, a skill set to self advocate, and the belief that they can continue to learn and grow throughout life.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
Every one of my professors, from my first Post Bac class through the end of the MEd program, challenged me to reflect on my own beliefs, bias, practices, and performance. They held high expectations, but always knew when and where to offer support. I also received amazing support through the MUSE mentor program. My MUSE mentor made a world of difference in helping me bridge the gap between my university courses and my classroom experience.

Did you receive any funding for your program? If yes, which types and how did this funding support you in choosing this path?
I received a full stipend for the Post Bac program and a partial stipend for the MEd program. Both stipends allowed me to attend college while still raising a family. It would have been a financial hardship to attend school without these opportunities.

What are your future plans?
As a teacher, I am also a perpetual student. My future plans include delving into more professional learning opportunities related to literacy and language development for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. I also plan to travel with my husband and children and enjoy watching them develop their own strengths and interests.

Anything else you would like to share?
I want people to know that learning is a lifelong process. I decided to go back to college in my thirties and I did not finish my MEd until I was forty. I completed my degree while raising three children and working full-time. It was not always easy, but it was doable and I felt supported every step of the way. It was also amazing to celebrate my successes with my children. They were by my side through the whole process and even let me test out the occasional lesson or activity with them as my students. I enjoyed spending this time with them and I got to know more about them as learners. I think they enjoyed it too because they are looking forward to becoming UH students in the future. My oldest daughter was in second grade when I started coursework towards licensure and she is entering high school this year!

Cory standing with her husband and three kids on UH Mānoa football field.

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