Two UCSB Students Awarded $30,000 Fellowship

Annalise Domenighini

Two UC Santa Barbara students, Misha Chua and Abrham Alem, received the Woodrow Wilson–Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color. This fellowship of $30,000 is awarded to those students who plan to complete a master’s degree in education and go on to work at a high-need K-12 public school in the United States.

Misha Chua, a Linguistics major and Education minor, explained why she has chosen to go on to pursue a master’s degree in education.

“As a person who learned English as a second language, I want my own story to be an inspiration for students to do well in school, go to college and apply for scholarships so that they can achieve great things,” she said.

Chua cites her experience observing an adult literacy class as the reason she became inspired to pursue her dream.

“It was definitely one of the strongest inspirations that I have for doing this because it allowed me to reflect on my own education and how lucky I was to have learned English,” she said.  “I want to provide students with the same opportunity because it’s one of the most important skills that people need. It makes a significant difference being a non-native speaker of English, because it can inspire non-native speakers of English to learn and improve their own English.”

Chua plans to attend the Givertz School of Education at UCSB and get her Single Subject Teaching Credential in English to teach inner-city middle and high school students in Southern California.

Abrham Alem, a fourth-year Black Studies major with minors in Education and Global Peace & Security, aspires to be a History/Social Science or Math teacher.

“[Becoming a teacher] and helping students that are in need of highly qualified teachers is my passion. Teachers really influence their students’ lives, and you can tell when a teacher’s heart is in the right place,” he said. “There are few positive black male role models in education. Honestly, I can’t think of a moment where I can look back and say I had a black male teacher.”

Alem also believes it significant to be a person of color pursuing teaching at an inner-city school.

“It is very important for inner city youth to have a role model and say ‘He did it, so I can do it too,’ and that’s why I want to get into education,” he said.

For aspiring applicants, or people who think education might be a field they want to go into, Alem shared some advice.

“For most, the education field is looked down upon because it’s not valued. But if you have a passion for it, or you think it’s an area for you, I encourage you to go for it and follow your heart. Be the changes you want to be in the field [of education],” he said.

According to Chua, the application process was not stressful at all.

“I was so glad that the people at the education department made the application so simple and easy! They give us plenty of time to finish the application so there’s no rush,” she said. “The interview [for the fellowship] was comfortable and it felt more like a conversation with colleagues.”

Aspiring applicants for 2012 must have a substantial background in the arts and science, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and not be currently in a teacher prep program. Visit or contact Maritza Fuljencio of the Teacher Education Program, Gevirtz School at for more information.

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