Holmes Scholar Comes Full Circle as Cadets Coordinator

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The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. For more information on the AACTE Holmes Program, visit http://aacte.org/programs-and-services/holmes-program.

It is amazing how life is connected in cyclical threads, sometimes leading you down old paths, but showing you completely new views. This recently happened to me as I became a coordinator of a new Holmes Cadets program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As a former Holmes Scholar, I remember the impact I felt when I was inducted into the program. That was an amazing experience, for it made me realize my potential in leading others to become teachers.

After arriving in this country from Brazil at the age of 15, it was not easy for me to realize my full potential. As I forged my hybrid cultural identity, I often struggled to fit in while holding on to the core of my being. I was fortunate to have some good teachers who supported me along the way. Eventually I became a teacher educator, and I know that it was in part as a result of opportunities given to me. First, I was able to enter higher education through the now-defunct open-admission policy for all high school graduates. My university education then took me from being on academic probation after the first semester all the way to the doctoral dissertation award, 30 years later. But it was through the Holmes Scholars Program that I fully realized my passion to guide students on their path to teaching, achieving their full potential, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

Although I became a teacher educator, somehow I had lost my connections to the Holmes Program. Then last year, I found the organization again, and through a series of unexpected events, I am now guiding a group of smart, energetic youngsters in the borderlands near Mexico, who want to become teachers and want to help others like themselves learn and become the best they can be. This is like coming back along an old familiar path and seeing a new landscape full of opportunities.

At the new Holmes Cadets kick-off meeting this summer, I was inspired to see the participating high schoolers recognize a glimpse of their future potential. “It was educational, it was fun, it was a growing experience,” said one Cadet, Tiffany Johnson, of her time at the event. “We used the TeachLive program, which uses avatar students to [simulate] the classroom experience. Through the TeachLive sessions I was able to act as a teacher on the first day of class, telling the students a bit about myself and even getting to know the students. […] As a senior in high school, I found this session to be very helpful in shaping my future career path. I can now say that I am leaning more towards being a high school teacher.”

For me, it is truly exciting and an honor to be a part of this initiative and work with students such as Tiffany, who is also president of the Texas Association of Future Educators. I look forward to working with these Cadets and to walking with them as they journey through their education, on the way to becoming not only teachers, but change agents – educators who can make a difference so others can succeed, no matter who they are, or where they came from.

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Alcione Ostorga

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley