Noyce Scholars: First Cohort of NSF Funded Program Plans to Give Back to Communities as Teachers
The first cohort of students who were awarded a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship began their journey this semester toward becoming math and science teachers, many of whom plan to teach in the communities they came from.
The $750,000 five-year grant was awarded to the Transition to Teaching (TTT) program at California State University, Dominguez Hills last year, providing $10,000 scholarships per year for eligible upper division and transfer undergraduate students who are majoring in math or the sciences.
Noemi Gonzales, program coordinator for the Noyce Scholars and the Math and Science Teacher Initiative, says that working with the cohort of future teachers has been “an amazing experience.”
“Our Noyce project offers the [students] valuable experiences which will help them as they become math and science teachers,” she says. “I admire our students’ energy, enthusiasm and passion to become teachers at schools were they’re needed the most.”
January Camero, senior, mathematics, is a graduate of Narbonne High School in Lomita. She says that she hopes to be able to educate and inspire students in low-performance schools as a teacher.
“Kids in inner cities have a lot of potential,” she says, “and they just need that extra push and motivation from an effective teacher. It will help push them into college and to become a professional in whatever field they desire.”
One possible obstacle toward a college degree for students in underserved schools in Los Angeles is the lack of individual attention that many students may need in order to pass more difficult subjects in math and the sciences. Monica Flores, a senior majoring in mathematics, was inspired to become a teacher after working as an aide in a continuation school.
“I have been working in the math department, working one-on-one with students and trying to encourage students to break their fear of math,” she says. “They need to learn it to go on to the next step, which is college. Knowing math will give them a lot of power.”
Noyce Scholars are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in their major and commit to a minimum four years of teaching in a Los Angeles Unified or Lynwood district high-need school after receiving their credential. In addition to the financial support of the scholarship, teacher candidates receive extensive academic support and mentoring throughout their studies and while serving paid internships as teacher assistants in mathematics or science classrooms in high need schools. They are also eligible for other financial support, including Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants and Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE) loan forgiveness. After completion of their bachelor’s degree, the graduates can receive continued financial and academic support while earning their credential through the TTT program.
“We are finally able to offer our students comprehensive support,” says Kamal Hamdan, TTT program director. “They can focus on their education without having to worry as much about how to pay for their tuition, books, or about getting a part-time job. They won’t have to take four or five years to complete a bachelor’s degree and credential. This should allow the average student at Cal State Dominguez Hills who is interested in becoming a dedicated math or science teacher to complete their education in a timely manner.”
“It’s always such a barrier, the amount of time it takes to finish school,” says Xiomara Benitez, TTT program coordinator. “Every year, Professor Hamdan comes up with new ideas... to help the students and open the door, so they could pursue their goal of becoming teachers in the schools where they’re needed the most. The candidates coming to [the Noyce Scholars] program went to the schools in the communities where they will be serving. It just completes the circle.”
For more information about the CSU Dominguez Hills Noyce scholarship, call (310) 243-2080. To learn more about the NSF Noyce grant program, click here.
- Joanie Harmon
Photo above: The first Noyce Scholars cohort prepares to teach math and science in underserved communities. Pictured, back row, L-R: Jaime Vallejo, senior, mathematics; Jonathon King, junior, biology; Kathryn Hamade, senior, biology. Front row, L-R: January Camero, senior, mathematics; Monica Flores-Vazquez, senior, mathematics; Nicole Winborne, junior, mathematics; Bridget Frederickson, senior, biology; and Sara Ortega, junior, mathematics.
Photo by Joanie Harmon