SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The annual 2020-2021 Fellowship Breakfast at UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz School honored the teachers of the future Friday morning with a Zoom celebration.
This year's theme, "Celebrating Opportunity and Inclusion," reflected on the importance of fellowships, especially during the pandemic.
"Remember the people. Remember the institutions that helped you get where you are that allowed you to realize your dreams," said Carol Dixon. "And then, give back."
Dixon, a Senior Lecturer with Security of Employment Emeritus in the Department of Education, set a tone of gratitude for this year's recipients.
During this academic year, 52 students received funds from 28 different fellowships in all areas of the school, including: the Department of Counseling, Clinical School Psychology, the Department of Education, and the Teacher Education Program (TEP).
The types of fellowships were wide-ranging. The Delaine A. Eastin Fellowship supported students pursuing an MA or Ph.D. in Education who show promise and are the first in their family to attend graduate school.
The Dr. Sabrina Tuyay Memorial Fellowship acknowledged teacher candidates in TEP who've shown a commitment to providing thoughtful literacy and English language instruction to elementary and/or special education students.
Each recipient expressed heartfelt pride and gratitude. Some noted challenges, including racial or intellectual stigmas that they've overcome and the impact that will have moving forward as they mentor their current and future students.
"I hope to not only inspire my students to advocate for their acceptance and inclusion in society but also, to recognize that people from different backgrounds and abilities can excel in the field that they're choosing and be valued members of their community," said Maria Espitia, a PEAC Fellow recipient.
"Being the only Latina in my math cohort reminds me that I'm in a space that wasn't built for me," said Elsy Mora, another PEAC Fellow recipient. "So, I hope you can imagine that, at times, it does feel difficult to feel validated both as a female student trying to advocate for my communities and, as a teacher, trying to remind my students that they are enough. That they will be enough because I am enough."
Donald McNish, a Dorman Commons Scholarship recipient, eloquently expressed that it's not the paycheck that inspires students to pursue a life in education.
"As an educator, we dream of graduate school. We give up the salary and the position in order to research how to make education more equitable for California students. So, I'd like to thank you for this award. It means a lot."