September 2, 2012
Undergrad: University of California (Linguistics and Psychology)
Fast Fact: Heidi and three of her colleagues were published in the CATESOL 2011 journal.
"I was really drawn to the rare opportunity of living in such a small and diverse linguistic and cultural community."
During her undergraduate career, Heidi volunteered at the UCSD International Center working as a literacy teacher's assistant in a primarily Spanish-speaking high school. This opportunity sparked an interest to spend a year in Mexico honing her Spanish skills.
"During my year abroad in Mexico, I connected with Spanish language educators and imagined myself doing the same, but in my own culture back home," Heidi said.
Heidi decided to pursue her graduate studies at MIIS for a number of reasons.
"I was first drawn to the many opportunities for TESOL graduate students at MIIS. Further, I was really drawn to the rare opportunity of living in such a small and diverse linguistic and cultural community. All in beautiful Monterey - it seemed too good to be true! I also really admired the profiles of the professors in the program, all of whom seemed to be amazing applied linguistics and educators."
She goes on to say, "When I reflect on my time here, I think about the extreme amount of room I was given to grow and develop myself as a professional. The professors have always been supportive and flexible of my academic and professional experiences."
Heidi was heavily involved with the Peace Resource Center, a project of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, beginning in January 2011. She worked in some capacity as a teacher, curriculum developer, graduate student writer, program coordinator, and served on their board of directors.
"Things kind of naturally fell into place in terms of my involvement as the needs of the program grew over time," she said. "Aside from classes, we have expanded the program to offer one-on-one tutoring, weekend events, bilingual movies and potlucks, and we are trying to fundraise through a biyearly benefit concert."
Now, with a few years of experience under her belt, Heidi draws on what she learned here at MIIS in her position as a teacher in the Intensive English programs at UCI Extension.
"The MATESOL program definitely gave me the foundation and confidence to conduct my own needs analyses, make community building a foundation in any class, and create my own curriculum. Oh, and keep an investigative mind for any grammar questions that come my way! I feel grounded professionally and competent as a theoretical practitioner. Did I learn everything I needed to during my Master's program? No! In fact, I learned that there is no end to learning, but that's okay, I left with a great foundation and feedback from professors."
Looking back, the networking and connections that she made during her time in Monterey are part of what made the experience worthwhile.
"I truly made friends and connections for the rest of my life and still consider Monterey a home for me. Now that I have been working a few years, I can really say with conviction that my cohort and professors are among the best in the field and I feel like a much more confident and prepared teacher as a result of attending MIIS. Even now at my current work place, there is a bond between me and the two other teachers who attended MIIS even though we didn't go to school there at the same time! MIIS is special."