Minor in Education and Post-Bac Certificate in Special Education

Zhenyu Gu

“I want to use my knowledge in special education to influence people around me… to let them understand what special education is and eliminate bias.”


Chongqing, China


Special Education

When did you move to Hawaiʻi?
I moved to the U.S. when I was 17. I went to high school for two years in New Jersey, then came to Hawaiʻi to pursue my bachelor’s degree.

How did you become interested in the Minor in Education (MIE)?
I always wanted to become a teacher since I was young. I took a lot of education courses when I was pursuing my bachelor’s. During my last year of college, I saw that the COE launched its first minor in education, and I just needed to take one more class based on its requirements and I would get my Minor in Education; therefore, I decided to apply.

What made you decide to return for your teaching license?
In January of 2021, I started working as a paraprofessional tutor (PPT) at ‘Āina Haina Elementary. I never had work experience with elementary school children, and I did not know what PPT was until I started working there and learned that PPT is directly working with students with disabilities. It is one-to-one, which gives that specific kid with disabilities extra support all day long through the school day. The PPT helps the student with academics, social, emotional, etc. I really enjoy working with students with disabilities, and when I see they are making progress, it makes me so happy. It takes a lot of practice and repetition, but I am so glad for them when they are making progress.

Would you recommend the MIE to other students? Why?
Yes, because MIE is able to provide students who are interested in education a chance to get to know what education is and give them general ideas about education.

What was the best part of your program(s) at the COE?
Wonderful and supportive advisors, coordinators, and professors. Also, Muse mentors. They are all here to guide us and prepare us well with knowledge in education.

In what ways do you hope to make a difference in the field of education?
I wish more people and parents of students understand what special education is and how it works. In addition, I wish more people were aware whether kids have a disability and how to get diagnosed as well as how to get special education services. Moreover, I want to use my knowledge in special education to influence people around me, such as my friends and neighbors etc., to help them understand what special education is and eliminate bias.

How did the people and the program in the COE help you along your way to becoming a teacher?
My field supervisor and professors always provided me feedback on how to teach lessons to students with disabilities and also always taught me efficiency teaching strategies.

What are your future plans?
Obtain my Master in Special Education Degree, BCBA. At the same, be a classroom special education teacher.

When did you complete the MIE? Your teaching license?
I got my MIE in December of 2019 and my teaching license in May of 2023.

Anything else you would like to include?
I wish more people would join the special education field to help and support students with disabilities to strive for a better life and to teach them how to be independent as much as possible. I wish to learn different special education systems in different countries around the world. I love living in this beautiful paradise island and working in my favorite career field.


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