Meet the 2015 Cohort of Urban Teaching Fellows

The Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s (GSE) Urban Teaching Fellows is a program that allows aspiring educators the opportunity to develop the specialized skill-set needed to teach in an urban school. Through the coursework, close mentoring, and hands-on experience, fellows gain a deep understanding of how to effectively teach students in urban schools. Fellows have the advantage of a hands-on experience extended over three semesters of observing, student teaching, and running an after school program.


Below you will find a question and answer discussion with members of the 2015 cohort: 


How did you become interested in education?

“I used to work at a summer camp and loved the environment and working with kids. Coupled with the fact that I want to help be a positive influence in peoples’ lives, it seemed like the natural choice.” – Caitlin Foley, B.A. in History, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“I wanted to work in a career where I could make a difference. I thought I could do this through a career in law and politics, but I realized that some people who had really made an impact on my life were teachers.” – Gabriela Guzmen, B.A. History and Political Science, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“It seemed like a rewarding job where I could apply my knowledge of history.” – Kevin Cuddihy, B.A. History, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies and Special Education

“I am always in social studies and education. I also want to help people and share my passion in the field. My parents came from a poor family with little education so I really want to be active in the education field.” – Isaac Lung, B.A. History and Political Science, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education


What attracted you to the UTF program/why do you want to work in an urban school district?

“I was attracted to the UTF program because I believe that it has the ability to teach me skills I will need to be successful as a future educator. I want to work in an urban school because I attended urban schools throughout my elementary and secondary schooling so I have seen first-hand how important quality educators are in those environments.” – Yesenia Infante, B.A. History and Psychology, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“Urban schools get the short end of the stick and I think they need caring teachers the most. I want to be a warm demander and give students a chance to develop their voice like I was given the opportunity to do.” – Alice Debowski, B.A. History, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“When I was part of a summer program for prospective teachers (in high school) one of the things we did was visit a suburban school directly followed by an urban school less than 10 miles away. After seeing the vast differences, my gut feeling was ‘this is not fair.’ Since then, I didn’t know what exactly I could do to impact this, but I knew I wanted to commit myself to trying.” – Jasmine Johnson, B.A. Sociology, Anticipated Ed.M. in Elementary Education

“Many urban students are forced to endure the pit of injustice of our country. I do not want to ‘save’ them, but rather provide them the opportunity to learn that they have the power to fight for better conditions and the justice they deserve.” – Stephanie Rivera, B.A. Political Science, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“Reading and seeing the disparity between urban and suburban settings in Intro to Education, I did not realize the differences until then and now I want to know more about why they exist and what can be done to provide equitable education to everyone.” – Lucy Yakobchuk, B.A. Philosophy, Anticipated Ed.M. in Elementary and Special Education

“I firmly believe that every child is entitled to a strong education where they know that they can learn. I hope to inspire my students to look at people throughout history from a variety of different backgrounds that changed the world, this way they know they can do the same. I feel that the UTF program has been crucial to my success as a teacher because it has taught us more than how to work within an urban district; it has taught me how to be a culturally responsive educator.”- Megan King, B.A. History and Women's and Gender Studies, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

“I come from an environment that in some aspects, mimics typical urban settings. I'm attracted to Urban school districts the most because the students I work with are some of the strongest students I know. I focus on their ability to overcome adversity on a daily basis rather than their shortcomings.”- Arianna Cummings B.A. in English, Anticipated Ed.M. in Secondary Education


What are you looking forward to learning and doing over the next year?

“I am looking forward to making the types of changes in the lives of youth that will motivate them to do excellently in high school and middle school. I would also like to start an after school program.” – Christopher York, B.A. Psychology, Anticipated Ed.M. in Elementary Education

“I’m most interested in seeing how I develop as a teacher and take what I’ve learned to be the most effective teacher I can be.” – Joelle Mah, B.A. Psychology, Anticipated Ed.M. Elementary and Special Education

“I look forward to learning what my teaching style will be. I know that the next year will be challenging but I’m confident that I will be good at what I do.” – Levi Scott, B.A. History, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education

 “I want to learn to write and read better Spanish. I want to become certified in ESL and Special Education. I want to be teaching. I want to get students excited about learning. I want to be able to change my students’ lives for the better.” – Katherine Gomez, B.A. History, Anticipated Ed.M. in Social Studies Education



To learn more about the Urban Teaching Fellows, visit the program webpage.