Aspiring to Lead & Teach

In conjunction with the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) the National Science Foundation funded INCLUDES Aspire Alliance the California Regional Collaborative offer two pathways for future community college leaders and faculty. Aspire internships offer graduate students and postdoctoral scholars interested in teaching or administrative positions the opportunity to learn more about faculty life and governance within the Los Angeles community college district.

Aspire interns receive stipends and have access to many additional resources. The support our interns receive will help advance our goal of closing the opportunity gap and fostering the next generation of community college leaders and STEM faculty.

Aspire2Teach

The Aspire2Teach program trains and prepares graduate students and postdoctoral scholars interested in teaching at a community college for part-time and full-time faculty positions. The program offers a series of institutes on inclusive teaching, professional learning opportunities, and classroom training under the guidance of a mentor in their specific discipline.

2021 Interns

Raquel Aragon

Contact: raquelhsolis@ucla.edu

BA: Biochemistry, Mount Holyoke College

PhD Candidate: Molecular Biology, UCLA 

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

Community college was extremely stigmatized when I was in high school and I hope to help remove negative connotations from CC’s. I also want to be part of diversifying STEM faculty in CC’s – students deserve to see themselves represented in the classroom.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I’m excited to learn about grading for equity and using Canvas to build a more organized and student-centered in-person and online classroom experience

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and empowering them in different ways throughout the learning process.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I have been a dancer in Pacifico Dance Company since 2018 – a dance company that fuses traditional Mexican folklorico, ballet, and modern dance. I also started gardening recently, which has been really rewarding and has connected me more with the earth.

Lindsay Ferguson

Contact: lmferguson@mednet.ucla.edu

BS: Physiology,  Lyman Briggs School of Medicine, Michigan State University

MS: Biology, DePaul University

PhD: Behavioral Psychology, University of Texas at Austin

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I believe community college is a terrific gateway for students who may not have the education or finances to attend a university, but who want to pursue higher education. I find these students to be highly motivated, which motivates me in turn to create an enriched and interactive classroom environment. I hope that through their experiences with me, they will continue to pursue their dreams and reach higher than they ever anticipated.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

I love seeing a student’s face when they really connect with the material, when they’ve found their passion. I also enjoy when they connect with me. I hope it helps to keep them motivated in their studies.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I love being outdoors. My family and I often go hiking all around LA, we take drives along the coast, and spend a lot of time at the beach. The sound and view of the waves is so relaxing. The ocean is definitely my happy place.

Alex Hallenbeck

Contact: ahallenbeck@g.ucla.edu

BA: Music, Cornell University

MA: Musicology, Indiana University

PhD Candidate: Musicology, UCLA 

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

As a PhD student at UCLA I’ve been able to teach many undergraduates about popular music and I want to pursue a career that allows me to be a full-time instructor of this subject while remaining in Southern California!

Lauren Hofschneider

Contact: lhofschneider@ucla.edu

BA: Psychology and Social Behavior, UC Irvine

MA: Psychology, UCLA

PhD Candidate: Psychology, UCLA 

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I firmly believe that high quality education should be accessible to all students, and the community college system makes this possible. I have worked closely with incoming and current transfer students through the my lab‘s summer intensive program and my two-year tenure as the Co-Chair of the Underrepresented Graduate Students in Psychology’s Transfer Student Outreach Committee. Through these positions, I have witnessed the resilience, creativity, and thoughtfulness of my transfer students, and I want to nurture their growth as scientists at their community colleges.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is seeing students develop the competence, critical thinking, and research skills to go from “question-asker” to “question-answerer”.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I’m a painter and avid hiker. On the weekends, you’ll likely spot me at the Mar Vista recreation center playing tennis, or I’ll be at home playing my 3rd round of Catan with friends until the wee hours of the morning.

Artin Soroosh

Contact: artinsoroosh8@gmail.com

BS: Biological Sciences, UC Irvine

MS: Medical Physiology, Case Western Reserve University

PhD:Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

Community colleges have many students who are at the start of their academic careers. To teach at a community college means that I am in a position to mentor those that are embarking on their lives in higher education. This is particularly important for STEM, where my leadership as a person of color can pave the way for other underrepresented communities to pursue careers in science.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is creating personal relationships with my students and being in a position to guide them through part of college.

Kari Garcia

Contact: kngarci88@gmail.com

BA: Electrical Engineering, UCLA

MS: Environmental Engineering, CSUF

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I am a proud alumni of the Los Angeles Community College District and was incredibly grateful to start my college education within an equitable and supportive educational institution. The LACC District was a large contributor to my academic success and I am incredibly honored for the opportunity to help others from our community achieve their academic goals.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

Currently, I am learning about the learning management system Canvas which is an incredibly powerful tool. I have also used an online whiteboard called iDroo that has allowed me to work with students through the pandemic.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Creating a classroom environment that encourages students to problem solve and learn from one another just as much as they would learning from my lectures.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons.

2020 Interns

Manisha Chase

Manisha Chase

Contact: mkc012@g.ucla.edu

MS: Masters in Educational Assessment, Institute of Education, University of College London

PhD Candidate: Education/Psychology, UCLA 

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

Given my dedication to diversity and equity in education, I cannot think of a better place to put my teaching and mentoring skills to use than with a Community College population! The diversity of life experiences, goals, ethnicity, and more that you find particularly in Community Colleges, makes for all the more enriching classroom discussions. It would be my honor to learn from and serve this community.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is developing learning relationships with students–as much as I teach them, they teach me. It is such a unique experience to be a part of someone’s academic journey, and to get to know them beyond just a name and student ID number on your roster.

What are some of your hobbies? 

I enjoy reading fiction and anything active and outdoors in my free time.

Chelsea Romney

Chelsea Romney

Contact: chelsearomney@ucla.edu

BS: Psychology, Brigham Young University
MA:
Psychology, UCLA
PhD Candidate: 
Psychology, Biopsychology, Health Psychology, Psychological Statistics, UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

The opportunity to live, work, and learn from the diverse members of my community.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

Flipped classroom, ungrading, gamification (online and in-class), problem-based learning, peer teaching, culturally responsive teaching, the list goes on!

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

The content is never the same if you give students the opportunity to share how they see it based on their unique life experiences.

Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies? 

I’m a first-gen college grad. I love my family and the great outdoors!

Shawn McEachin

Shawn McEachin

Contact: smceachin@ucla.edu

BA: Environmental Studies and Earth Sciences, UC Santa Cruz

MS: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA

PhD Candidate: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I really enjoy teaching and am excited to pursue a career at a college whose emphasis is on the students. Community colleges play such an important role in the personal and professional development of so many people. I look forward to serving my community by making personal connections and serving as both an educator and mentor to my future students.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I try to employ a hands-on approach as much as possible in my classes. I’ve recently learned about Avida-ED, a free educational platform used to teach undergraduate students about the principles of evolution in an inquiry-based lab setting, and am really excited to find ways to implement it as much as possible.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

I love seeing students figure out what they enjoy most and want to pursue in their own lives.

Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies? 

When I’m not watching soccer, you can find me in the garden, out on a hiking trail, or at the beach with my wife and dog.

Helen Motanis

Helen Motanis

Ph.D: Neuroscience, University of Haifa, Israel

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

As education opened many doors for me, and because I realized the important role some teachers played in my success, I want to do the same for my community. I know that through teaching I could affect the lives of many students who experience similar challenges as I faced. I am a firm believer that it’s never too late to acquire education and with the right teachers and teaching methods everyone is capable of learning. I am very passionate about providing education in platforms that serve all cultures and ages and I want to help young and adult students to get education and achieve their goals. I believe and have witnessed first hand that college education can be fundamental to improving the social welfare of communities. I am very committed to be part of that effort.

Rilwan Junaideen

Rilwan Junaideen

Contact: rilwan.history@yahoo.com

BA & MA: Modern History – University Of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

My passion to educate and guide undeserved and marginalized students in particular. I would like share my experience along with my subject knowledge to make a change in their lives.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

The best way to learn is to teach.

Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies? 

Playing Cricket, Swimming, Reading, Watching motivational speeches.

Tomoko Nakajima

Tomoko Nakajima

B.Mus: Music Education, Boston University

MPA: Education Administration, Notre Dame de Namur University

PhD Candidate: Urban Schooling,UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

Throughout my life, I really enjoyed taking courses in various community college courses to expand my professional skills and for enrichment. The students and faculty at community colleges tend to be more representative of our diverse neighborhoods, and I look forward to being a part of that network.

India Nichols

Contact: inichols@ucla.edu

BS: Biology, Spelman College

PhD: Biology, Clark Atlanta University

Postdoc: UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level? 

My career mission statement is to inspire a diverse group of students in the biological sciences while empowering them to be leaders in their community. The community is the most important unit of society and preparing students to address problems within the community with creative solutions will strengthen our society as a whole. My career mission is in line with the mission of most Community colleges which is ultimately to serve the community through educating a dynamic and prepared workforce.

What courses would you like to teach?

Biology, Neuroscience, Cellular and Molecular Biology

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I am excited to learn more about evidence based techniques and using mindfulness in teaching science.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

I love making connections with students and mentoring.

Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies?

My hobbies include cooking, traveling, and learning about different cultures.

2019 Interns

Kankana Ghoshal, PhD

Contact: konkana2003@gmail.com

PhD: Department of Plant Science, University of British Columbia, Canada

Postdoc Training: Molecular & Computational Biology, USC 

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?
I feel inspired by successfully sharing my knowledge with students to help them develop excitement and passion for science. Watching a student’s progress to learn new things and become an independent thinker highly motivates me. Furthermore, my motivation is strengthened by getting enrolled in several CIRTL [Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning] courses, reading articles on educational research, and through my involvement in teaching and learning community at UCLA.
When did you first become interested in teaching?
I have always been interested in teaching. I enjoyed tutoring from my high school days. However, the self-realization for my passion towards teaching came during mentoring of undergraduate students in my post-doctoral lab.
What courses would you like to teach?
I would like to teach the following courses: Biology, Plant Biology, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, and basic Bioinformatics.
Tell us about your research and how you will apply this knowledge in the Community College classroom. 
My experience has helped me to gain expertise in fundamental concepts of biology, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. I want to guide my students in an active learning environment to master these concepts and skills which are essential for a student’s successful career in and beyond science. During my Ph.D. and postdoctoral training, I had the opportunity to work with people from different countries which made me realize how diversity can facilitate learning and thoughts. Therefore, I would like to leverage the diversity within a community college for enhancing the learning experience of a student by creating an inclusive, enthusiastic, comfortable and respectful classroom learning environment.
What are some of your hobbies?
Yoga and Indian Classical Dance.

Kersti Haatveit

Contact: khaatveit@chem.ucla.edu
Transfer, Diablo Valley College
B.S.: Chemistry, UC Berkeley
M.S.: Chemistry, UCLA
Ph.D. Candidate, Chemistry, UCLA

Your disciplinary expertise:

Organic Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Biocatalysis, Chemical Education

Please respond to the following questions, please limit responses to 2-5 sentences:

When did you first become interested in teaching?

My interest began in community college where I enjoyed working in study groups and helping my group members learn the material. This realization made me pursue an undergraduate teaching position at UC Berkeley called the Teacher-Scholar Program. In my first quarter of graduate school, I started my first TA assignment where I really confirmed my interest and felt this is something I really enjoy and made me pursue as many teaching opportunities I could get.

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I attended community college and I attribute this experience to my academic success because of my professors and mentors there. I want to serve as a role model and break negative stereotypes about community colleges to show what can be achieved with community college as a starting point. The smaller classroom size and accessibility of community college makes it a great place to do this. In addition, I want to serve as a mentor to my students by guiding them to find their career goals and interests, motivating students to believe they can excel in STEM fields, and making them aware of opportunities to succeed beyond the classroom.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I am currently using many evidence-based teaching practices, particularly active learning strategies, such as facilitating group work, effective questioning, think-pair-shares, and wait time. I am excited to learn more about using these techniques and others we have learned in the Project Match Summer Institute in the context of the chemistry discipline!

Where is your teaching practicum and who is your community college faculty mentor?

My teaching practicum is at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) with Dr. Armando Rivera-Figueroa.

What do you hope to gain from your participation in the Aspire2Teach Fellowship and ProjectMATCH programs?

I hope to learn more about the community of students to learn how I can best serve them. I hope to learn more about how to use effective teaching strategies in chemistry in the community college classroom. I hope to learn about what community college teaching jobs looks like and gain a network of mentors for the future!

Eunice Bin Lee

Contact: eunibin@ucla.edu

B.S.: Bioengineering

M.S.: Bioengineering, UCLA

Your disciplinary expertise: Medical Imaging, Physiology

When did you first become interested in teaching?

I have been a tutor since high school and even have experience teaching abroad (South Korea). But I realized that I wanted to teach as a profession while being a teaching assistant for genetics at UCLA.

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I knew I wanted to teach college level. That is the stage where the students as independent adults start to take ownership of their education, and it is so exciting to play a role in that. I love the community college environment; it’s diverse, exciting, challenging. Having taken numerous community college courses in my life, I have utmost respect for the excellence in teaching that takes place at community colleges; there are many professors who have changed my life. It would be an honor for me to be one of the number.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I am so intrigued by the practice of developing norms and routines in classrooms and allowing students to dictate the terms by which we build the best environment for their learning. I want to continue to learn more about having students feel more at home in the classroom and take responsibility for their own learning.

Where is your teaching practicum and who is your community college faculty mentor?

I am interning at Pierce College in Dr. Teak V Lee’s Physiology 1 lecture and lab classes (no relation ^^).

What do you hope to gain from your participation in the Aspire2Teach Fellowship and ProjectMATCH programs?

A first-hand experience of different aspects of the culture at community college I am not already familiar with, opportunities to observe talented teachers, participating in communities for studying best teaching practices, finding and collect resources to continue to improve my skillset.

Ian Perrone

Contact:  perrone.ian@gmail.com
MS, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, UCLA

Disciplinary Expertise: Virology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Immunology, Genetics

What motivates you to pursue a career at the community college level?

I am excited to share my passion for science and learning with future generations of scientists, researchers, doctors, and policy makers.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I am eager to apply tools such as concept jigsaws and reading apprenticeship theory that I have gained from attending 3CSN and Project MATCH workshops.

Where is your teaching practicum and who is your community college faculty mentor?

My Project MATCH experience is at West Los Angeles College under Professor Ka-Hung Lee.

What do you hope to gain from your participation in the Aspire2Teach Fellowship and Project MATCH programs?

I hope to learn more about how I can, as an educator, increase diversity within the sciences. I also hope to gain valuable hands-on experience teaching in the community college classroom.

Aspire2Lead

Aspire2Lead interns are given opportunities to learn more about leadership within the Los Angeles Community College District.  Interns engage in intentional networking and professional learning opportunities, assessment projects, and policy research. Additionally, interns will assist in sharing statewide resources and creating professional learning opportunities for the Aspire2Teach interns.

2020 Interns

Paige Zhang

Contact: pzhang312@ucla.edu

BS: Biology, Ohio State University
PhD Candidate:
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

I would love to teach a diverse student body and be able to assist and inspire them to pursue a career in science.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I recently learned about reading apprenticeship in STEM and think aloud pairs problem solving (TAPPS) and am very excited to apply them to my teaching. I also regularly use strategies such as think-pair-share and free write in my classes.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Guiding students in their thinking and seeing them grow over time and seeing my students being respectful of others with different opinions.

 Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies? 

I’m in training to become a scuba diving instructor. It combines two things that I love!

Kelly Yoon Strathmore

Contact: kstrat@ucla.edu

IGETC Transfer Certificate: Foothill-De Anza Community College District
BA: Radio-Television-Film, San Jose State University
MFA: Film and Television, UCLA

What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?

Community College is where I first had the opportunity to see that success in higher education was actually possible for students like myself: 1st generation college student, socio-economically disadvantaged, racial minority, etc. At the community college level, students are there because they’ve made a choice to continue their educational growth. But, research shows that compared to their 4-year-university counterparts, many CC students carry extra burdens such as remedial coursework, full-time employment, and raising children, etc. Now that I have the opportunity to pursue a heart for teaching and leadership, I want to help students from our local community by sharing the knowledge and tools I’ve gained. My goal is to create and support initiatives that empower students, remove barriers on their road to success, and dissolve institutional inequities that affect educational outcomes.

What pedagogical tools are you currently using or excited to learn more about?

I am currently exploring culturally responsive pedagogy and its connection to inclusive classrooms, which foster increased sense of student belonging and self-value.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is watching a student have a ‚Äúlight bulb‚Äù moment. That moment when they‚Äôve understood the practical application of a concept for the first time. There‚Äôs an immeasurable joy in being a part of guiding as well as walking alongside someone else in the process of learning and growing. I feel like I learn as much as my students when I teach. It‚Äôs mystery and discovery — and it‚Äôs very meaningful.

Tell us something else about yourself. What are some of your hobbies? 

Both my academic research and screenwriting interests center around positive portrayals of marginalized groups in popular, yet critically and scholarly dismissed film & television shows. Ask me about this and I’ll be happy to whip out a 3-minute PowerPoint on how the 1970’s TV show, “Columbo” continues to have a positive impact 49 years later!

2019 Interns

Kaitlin (Katie) Dixie

Contact: kdixie@ceils.ucla.edu
B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Boston University
Ph.D.  in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, University of California Los Angeles
Your disciplinary expertise:
Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology, Physiology, Biochemistry
When did you first become interested in teaching?
Even in high school I knew I wanted teaching to be part of my career, but I truly fell in love with it during my first quarter teaching intro bio as a teaching assistant.
What motivates you to pursue a career in teaching at the community college level?
The chance to share the wonder of science with a diverse and motivated body of students and the culture of placing emphasis and value on teaching and learning.
What courses would you like to teach?
Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, Intro Biology, Physiology, Neurobiology
Tell us about your research and how you will apply this knowledge in the Community College classroom.
I had the pleasure of mentoring several students and gained valuable insight on how to be creative and patient in the ways I explain complex topics to inexperienced novices. I was also introduced to science education research at UCLA and did a small “teaching as research” project on methods to train graduate student teaching assistants. Through this and other professional development opportunities I gained new perspectives and tools on how to improve my teaching through deliberate assessment and am excited to apply them in my future career!