SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - "Celebrating Tomorrow's Changemakers" was the theme of this year's honorary event, which recognizes the teachers of the future. Like last year, Friday morning's Fellowship Breakfast was celebrated via Zoom.
A total of 59 students received funds from 25 different fellowships during this academic year.
Four Gevirtz School students shared their heartfelt gratitude as fellowship recipients, including Ryan Arellano (Morrison Fellowship), Isabelle Fleury (Hosford Memorial Fellow), Ana Mercado (Tuyay Fellow), and Mateo Ochoa (Dr. J Fellow / Laure E. Settle Fellow).
"As a young student, I did not see the minority communities that I'm a part of being adequately represented in the field of education," said Ochoa. "I hope that my students will see that if a brown individual with a learning disability can teach, then any of them can do what they desire."
Ochoa, born and raised in Santa Barbara, said that lack of representation in the local public school system is a big reason he was drawn to a career in teaching.
"I hope my students will recognize this sort of cognitive dissonance that comes from my being someone who was not necessarily a model student in school, who had to try twice as hard to do half as well and now, I'm doing the teaching. I will literally be the change that I hope to see by simply existing and doing my job, which I love."
Ana Mercado, a first generation college student, shared how the honor of receiving the Tuyay Fellow would help relieve the financial stress that comes with graduate studies.
"I want to be able, hopefully, to live on Dr. Tuyay's legacy by going back to L.A. where I'm from and really teaching students out there to find value and love for where they came from and who they are," said Mercado.
Mercado shared that she grew up in a predominately Latino/Latina community and spoke only Spanish. She often felt that her language was a barrier to "all the learning that was possible."
"I'm really hoping to, you know, really embody and help students learn that they area critical thinkers, that they have power and that their words have power and their actions. And, they're super capable of everything they want to accomplish one day."
In his closing remarks, the Dean of Gevirtz School, Dr. Jeffrey Milem, said these fellows are "positioned to be changemakers of the highest order."