Katherine Chou (3rd Quarter, 2006)

3rd Quarter, 2006
Teacher Scholarship Winner
Katherine Chou

“I was born in a small town in Iowa to two strict but loving parents. Starting from when I was very young, they instilled in me a sense of discipline, education and love. As I grew older, the discipline became time-management, the education a passion for learning and the love a love of truth.

I spent most of my life in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Walton High School in 2005. In my high school career, I was able to attain various leadership positions; among them a strong role within my church’s youth group as well as editor-in-chief of my high school’s literary magazine. I also spent a majority of my time doing school work, participating in Model UN and Orchestra, as well as writing in my spare time.

After high school, I went on to the University of California at San Diego, which is where I am now. Since writing the essay submitted for the scholarship, I’ve changed my majors to English Literature and Math in Secondary Education so that I can teach Math in the future. The subject of Math is in more dire need of teachers than English; however, I still plan on teaching in a low-income area, and I still plan on working hard to improve the lives of my students. I particularly want to help and inspire them to achieve their goals, and I also want to work to provide them with the same amazing fortune with which I was blessed . Many of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities given to me in high school were made possible by the financial backing of the high school, and my dream is to bring the same amazing opportunities to lower-income schools. “

A Portion of Katherine’s Winning Essay:

Katherine Chou

Since I first started peer-tutoring in seventh grade, I’ve realized that I want to become an English teacher. The moment I realized this was after I had finished a particular tutoring session. I was tutoring the daughter of the new pastor of our Chinese church. They had recently moved to America from Taiwan, and she knew very little English. I had been helping her read through books and explaining the different roles of sentence parts in my hackneyed Chinese. I also had brought her workbooks to do and tried to convey to her the beauty I felt was inherent in English. After a particularly rough day, I finally managed to explain to her what the role of a verb was, how it fit into a sentence and how to find verbs within a sentence. Although my brain was tired from all the thinking I had to do to convey the essence of a verb in a sentence using Chinese, I realized that I could never tire of teaching. I loved helping her understand English, and I loved the English I was teaching as well. From that day forward, I realized that I wanted to be an English teacher.

My goal as an English teacher is simple: I want to teach English in such a way as to inspire my students to pursue learning and achieve their own goals and dreams. I also want to specifically concentrate on students from poor schools, who often have to settle for sub-par learning materials and a sub-par education. To some, this dream of teaching in a poor school may seem a simple or silly goal, but to me, it’s a dream of the utmost prestige and honor.

I want to use this profession and combine it with the knowledge I will receive from my BA in English Literature and my BS in Social Psychology to become an English teacher that will inspire all kids, regardless of their level and experience with English, to love learning and to pursue dreams and privileges of their own. I, myself, have been extremely privileged in my education. I have two amazing, hard-working parents who have spent endless hours at their jobs to provide both me and my sister with opportunities most kids will never have. Because of them, I was able to attend one of the best high schools in my home state of Georgia and thus receive one of the best educations a high school can offer.

Because of my high school, I was also able earn many Advanced Placement credits to apply for credit in college. I also received the chance to travel abroad, using money I earned myself and “scholarships” my school provided. Through my school’s orchestra, I was able to play Mozart in a palace in Austria. Through my school’s Spanish program, I was able to take a short Spanish literature course in Salamanca, Spain. With my parents’ never-ending support, I have been able to spend three quarters away from home and focus on my schoolwork in the state of California. It is also with their support that I managed to help plan two Hurricane Relief trips in my first year of college as well as procure an internship at my home church in Georgia.

I have indeed been a blessed person. And it is for partly that reason that I am so passionate about becoming a teacher. I have been extremely privileged throughout much of my life, and I want to use my profession as a teacher to forward the same privileges to other children. I have also found that throughout life, education is the key to the future. By being well-educated, a job is more easily procured, doors are more easily opened, and opportunities are more easily had. Take for instance scholarships and scholastic awards: how many are based on academic standing and achievements? Education also factors into every single area of life; if a person cannot learn the skills for a job, they cannot be hired. That’s why I think forwarding the education of future kids is so important.

I believe that English is a key part of this. By inspiring kids to love English and love reading, we inspire kids to love learning since the language plays such an inherent part in education. English also is a factor in just about everything else in America today: it’s in our news, our art and even our pop culture. I want to teach kids to understand English as not only a language and a form of communication but also how it works as an art. Kids should know the beauty of a well-written novel and the grace of a period. By understanding and appreciating the language spoken around, to, and from them, kids will have an easier time learning what is likewise around, to, and even from themselves. They will be able to create their own masterpieces and enrich their own culture; they will be able to apply for more scholarships and communicate with more people. By learning to love English, kids will learn skills that will last them for life.

I also want to use the skills I have learned from my BS in psychology to apply to my interaction with the students. Psychology will give me a strong background in how minds work and allow me to think of more innovative and productive ways to reach my students. I also want to take what I learn as a Psychology major and apply it to the classroom in the sense that I want to study how my students interact with each other and how to make their interactions the most productive and beneficial as possible. I not only want to understand my students, but I want them to understand and help each other. I want to apply positive influences and soften or remove the negative influences that I can. I know that I will not always be able to protect my students, but I believe that my goals are reasonable and worth a try.

Working in a poor area with a poor school is just as important to me as teaching English and applying what I learn from psychology. Many schools in America lack adequate funding and must get by with out-of-date textbooks, equipment and even facilities. I want to work in these schools to make a difference by finding ways around the lack of money. Many of the richer areas in America, such as the one I had lived in, are graced with amazing schools because they are graced with the amazing money to afford such a school. My high school, as an example, was constantly getting new textbooks, and our teaching faculty was filled with esteemed teachers and even a few doctors. I want to bring similar privileges to under-privileged schools because I believe that every child is entitled to a good education. I not only want to inspire kids to pursue such an education, but I also want to work to provide it for them. In this way, their futures as well as their lives will become enriched.

I also realize that many of these poor areas are homes to high numbers of minorities. While my main concern is working with poor school districts in general, I also want to focus on the minorities who have just finished ESOL. As I first thought about becoming an English teacher, I really liked the fact that I would be a minority teaching English. It seemed like a positive way to break barriers and prejudices, and I think that the statistic of few minorities as English teachers should change. The number of minorities in America is growing, and we need English teachers who understand what it’s like to be above ESOL but still struggling with how a second language works. We also need teachers who can recognize the differences in the fine points of languages and who will have the patience and determination to teach kids these differences. I want to be just such a teacher and use my knowledge of English as well as my experiences as a minority myself to reach kids who struggle with learning the English language. I also want to use my knowledge of Spanish and Chinese to communicate with the children that I can. Although it was a long time ago, I still remember the troubles I had learning the fine differences between English and Chinese, and I still remember the troubles I faced as a Chinese-American growing up in America.

I want to work specifically with high school students because at that point kids are starting to finalize notions of whether or not they want to continue to a postsecondary school. I feel that this time is a critical point in kids’ lives since their futures hinge so critically on their decision to attend college or not. I want to inspire kids to go to college and receive their degrees so they can pursue their own dreams, and I want to enable them to pursue any scholarships, awards and acceptance letters they desire. If a child chooses not to go to college, I don’t want it to be because of anything they couldn’t do.

I want to give kids the same privileges that were given to me, and I want them to be able to achieve everything I have and more. To me, money, fame and power don’t matter. I certainly won’t be paid highly as a teacher in a poor area, and I won’t likely ever get great fame for being a good teacher. As for power, the power to change and inspire lives is enough for me. I acknowledge that the road ahead is probably going to be a hard one, filled with debt and money troubles. But that doesn’t really faze me because I believe that inspiring even one extra child to go to college will be worth whatever costs I have paid. I believe that handing that one extra child the key to a scholarship or an award or even the ability to create what he or she considers a literary masterpiece will be enough. I don’t need to worry about having it a little tough so long as another may benefit in such a ten-fold way. That is what really matters to me.

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