B.A. in Sociology, 2009; Teacher Credential 2013
School of Education
July 1, 2008
As First in Family to Seek a University Degree, Jeannette Medina Strives To be a Role Model For Others On Their Journey
As the oldest of three children and the first in my immediate family to attend a university, I had the burden to be the one that “tried out” college. I never really thought much about going to college when I was growing up. I was not one of those students who dreamt of attending Harvard or Yale or even UCLA for that matter. There was no family tradition of attending college or a family legacy to follow. My parents grew up in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, and were fortunate enough to graduate from Roosevelt High School. My father went to East Los Angeles College but was unable to finish school due to family responsibilities. My parents, like many other Mexicans, worked from an early age and had the responsibility on their shoulders to take care of their families. So, when it came to applying to colleges in November, I was a bit lost in the application process. I ended up applying to six colleges, three Cal States: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Fullerton, and three UC schools: San Diego, Riverside, and Irvine. I was fortunate enough to get into all six of them, since I was a pretty good student in high school and was in the top 25 of my class when I graduated. I chose UC Irvine due to the close proximity of the school; however, there was a downside of not knowing any history of UCI’s founding or where it was ranked in its quality of teaching. The city of Irvine, to me, was a ghost town due to my lack of geographic knowledge of where it was located. Irvine was about forty minutes away from my home, and I would be passing more than five cities and taking five freeways to get to the school. When I first saw UCI, which happened to be the same day of my freshmen orientation, and then Aldrich Park, I knew this was the school for me. The school fit my shy, sheltered, and peaceful character.
In high school I was a total book worm. In other words, I did not like to socialize that much outside of school. I preferred to stay home with family. Both my siblings, a brother and sister, have autism so I felt a huge responsibility to be home and to take care of them. Being a sister of autistic siblings has taught me to be more patient and benevolent to others. I look to them as inspiration when I feel I cannot accomplish a task in school because they have endured so much. My family is my life. At times I think I love them too much because I always put them before my needs, but I don’t mind. They are my happiness and my core. Staying at home during my high school years had some benefits; it allowed me to expand my little library of books. I read more novels from authors like Jane Austen and T.H. White. The books served as my transportation to travel to different parts of the worlds and eras in the convenience of my own home. UCI, being a commuter school, allowed me to continue to live with my family at home.
My freshmen year at UCI was horrible due to class and traffic scheduling; however, by the beginning of my second year I was managing my time better. My sophomore year also was the time when I was hired by the Department of Education in early October 2006. I have been working there for two years and have learned so much from my mentors Leora and Nancy. I learned a great deal about the graduate program. Leora taught me to be a leader and definitely a fighter, but most of all I learned from her to be myself no matter what obstacles are put in my path. Thanks, Leora! Nancy, my other mentor, is the person responsible for giving me the strength to apply and be recommended by CIE as a selectee for the UK Spring 09 study abroad program. Hopefully around this time next year, I will be returning from six months studying in England, with a broader knowledge of world issues, maturity, and a stronger sense of self. I have learned so much from Nancy, but most of all I learned to more disciplined, to have perseverance, and to be dedicated to the things I value most in life. Another person I would also like to thank is Gisela. She has been the person that helped me in my educational journey. We are both from the same ethic group, and I see her as an example and a person I want to aspire to be: a strong, independent, selfless Latina who worked hard to get to where she is today. I only hope I can be as dedicated as you are, Gisela!
My third year at UCI has been the best so far. I made the Dean’s List the whole year, which is a big deal to my family and me. I had declared my major, Sociology, in my second year; but I did not really take the core classes until fall quarter of my junior year. I learned so much from those classes, and they have only enhanced my thirst to learn more about world issues of inequality. I also decided to do a double minor in Chicano/Latino Studies and Educational Studies. The classes in both minors are outrageously fun and inspiring. The Chicano classes have inspired me to do research in popular issues of immigration and higher education that are affecting Latino families and students respectively. This year is also the year I finally decided what my career would be, a high school teacher. I love learning and teaching others. I was the neighborhood tutor where I grew up. I volunteered in an after school program in my elementary school. I enjoyed have the ability to inspire children and, hopefully, as a secondary teacher inspire adolescents not only to take advantage of the opportunities that school gives them but also to encourage them to go to college. I want to be the advisor that I never had when I was going to high school, someone to talk to about life and academic issues, and especially someone to respect as well as to look up to. I also have the intention to be a high school principal; hopefully, one day I can accomplish that dream as well. One professor’s class in particular, Dr. Evans’, educated me in what it takes to be a principal and the character that I need to embody in order to be a great leader and communicator. I really enjoyed the class, Dr. Evans!
I am amazed everyday that I am in college. I worked so hard and long to be where I am today, and I only hope that I can have the fortune to be a great educator like the ones that I have been so lucky to learn from. I will be applying to the Credential/MAT program at UCI, so I might be around the Department of Education for a bit longer! In order to be the best, I have to learn from the best; and I feel that UCI has the best educators. GO ANTEATERS!!!