Maria Morales, a third year student at Champlain College, is a community-committed student. Maria's work in the field of education shows her capacity to collaborate with teachers and students for long-term social change. In her role in student government, she takes action to address inequality. Her efforts as a future educator demonstrate her potential for effective long-term civic engagement. Maria has volunteered at the Lyman P. Hunt Middle School in the Burlington School District and at Winooski Middle School where she tutored, mentored, and taught English Language Learners and students with special needs. Most interns of this nature only mentor and tutor where directed, but Maria showed commitment and engagement becoming a valued member of those communities. Her work at the Winooski Middle School is a perfect example, where she developed an original service learning project with a fellow classmate and Winooski faculty members that engaged students in promoting and developing their own shared identity as well as honoring their individual cultural experiences and lives. This project demonstrated her problem-solving, her persistence, and her ability to make connections between the school and society within which it exists. Maria will be completing her student teaching experience on her path to becoming a licensed educator. She will be working in an urban school with many students in poverty. Our community has a large language minority population and Maria has shown and will continue to show her capacity as a leader to create educational system and teaching practices that benefit all students.
Growing up in Florida, I was able to grow in a community of people who were similar to me in how they looked, spoke, and thought. However, as I got older and began to venture out of my community I began to understand that there were people who were opposite. They didn't look, speak, or think like me at all and for the first time I was The Other and I became familiar with what that entailed. I came to realize that a barrier of inequality was really the reason for my look-a-like community. When people felt alienated, they gravitated toward those who were similar and for many in my community, the familiarity came from being alienated for being racially and linguistically different. When I moved to Vermont for college, I came to really understand this feeling of being The Other was not localized to my town. Rather it was an issue of wherever immigrants came to be. On campus, I decided to take this knowledge and an understanding for what feelings came from experiencing this and I actively created conversation about identity and community both within the Student Government Association as well as within my Community Field Teaching Placement in our local school districts.