Carmen, a first-generation college student, has overcome many obstacles in her journey to earning her MA at CSUN, and demonstrates tremendous persistence and resilience despite these barriers. Carmen has demonstrated the ability to raise expectations for her students with significant support needs in both self-contained and general education settings, has demonstrated exceptional skills when collaborating with others, and has collaborated closely with classmates beyond specific assignments to ensure they had the resources they need to be successful as well (e.g. sharing resources for the RICA exam, suggestions for teacher interviews, and teaching resources). In addition to meeting all expectations as a teacher candidate, Carmen had her first child while her preliminary credential was only halfway completed, and yet remained in the program and successfully navigated the ups and downs of student teaching while also parenting an infant. In her MA program, Carmen continued to refine her academic skills while teaching full time. In fact, in her first semester in the MA program, she was also teaching as a first year teacher in a new program focused on teaching vocational skills to adults with significant needs. Without a previous model to rely on, she advocated for an increased emphasis on embedded academic skills and built a program in which students developed a range of skills (tailored to different each) that also provided for the meaningful literacy skill practice that is often absent in programs for adults with disabilities. For her MA project, Carmen focused on approaches for teaching math skills to students with significant needs - an area which is often not addressed in a systematic manner among students with significant disabilities. Her project will support her in not only refining her instruction with her own students, but also in her mentorship of other teachers and teacher candidates.
In addition to being an excellent student, Tyra White is actively involved on campus life honing her leadership skills and encouraging other students to get involved. She has been actively involved in the Deaf Studies Association for two years serving as Member-At-Large and Treasurer, respectively. She made a huge contribution to the 2020 Black Deaf History Month programming by creating short Black Deaf history stories and factoids on Instagram and Facebook to share not only to the CSUN community but beyond. These stories were able to highlight and educate CSUN and society on the contributions and successes of Black Deaf community members throughout the U.S. In addition, she volunteers her time at Deaf events and makes time throughout the summer to take on internships and other educational opportunities within the Deaf community to expand her learning and Deaf community connections. On top of this she still found time to study abroad in South Africa and brought her experiences back to CSUN by planning and being on various panel presentations connected with her groups experience. While there is no doubt she benefited from these experiences, she always made sure to spread her newfound knowledge to CSUN and the larger community. At the very core of who Tyra White’s being is a person who cares deeply about others. You can see this in her passions but more importantly, you can see it in her actions. She could have chosen several different locations to do her summer internship but she chose to go to ASD and work voluntarily worked with Deaf Plus students from impoverished neighborhoods.
Congratulations to Carmen and Tyra!