The University of Texas at Austin’s Teach for America recruitment team is continuing our 2017 Corps Member features! We’re highlighting some of the fantastic individuals who have signed on as corps members, such as Paulina Hernandez-Trejo, in order to shed some light on an organization that focuses on eliminating educational inequity once and for all.
This week’s featured member is Stephanie Castellanos. Steph is an International Studies senior. While at UT, she has been most notably involved in the Foundations Scholars Program, University Leadership Network, and as a research associate for the Family and Child Center for Well-Being in the School of Social work.
Steph will be a first-generation college grad. Her parents are from Mexico & she has three siblings. No one prepared her for college; therefore, she experienced culture shock her freshman year. Through her time as both a mentee and mentor in ULN & FSP, she has learned how to transition and how to work with other students. As each of her mentees has a unique personality, Steph says adpating to working with students with different needs will greatly prepare her for classroom next year. Her experience as a research associate has also prepared her for the classroom as she has learned a lot about the current resources and afterschool care initiatives in the RGV & other low-income schools.
Originally from Pharr, Texas, she grew up with a dual language program in her schools kindergarden through highschool. "In the valley, I want to find ways to promote bilingual education and improve the program itself. Knowing two languages betters you - you can connect with more people, are more efficient, it really is an enrichment program." When Stephanie came to UT, she was shocked to meet other students from the valley who did not grow up with this enrichment program & could not communicate effectively with some of their own relatives. It reiterated her passion for ESL and the notion of how important bilingual education is.
Steph will be teaching Bilingual Elementary in the Rio Grande Valley in the fall. "TFA has given me the opportunity to give back to my community and promote ESL opportunities to people who may not experience it otherwise."