Alexis Zwick

Master's Credential Cohort Program: Special Education

What do you hope to do with your degree and/or credential, and why?

After I graduate with my Masters in Special Education, special education credential, and multiple subjects credential, I aspire to be a special education teacher in the elementary school setting. In addition, I am also pursuing my multiple subjects credential with the hope that I can teach in a general education classroom in an elementary school that models inclusion of students with and without disabilities. I desire to acquire both credentials so that I have the opportunity to teach in several classroom settings.

When did you begin your program, and when do you anticipate completing it?

I began my program in August 2014 and I intend on completing my special education credential in May 2015 and my Masters degree and multiple subjects credential in August 2016.

How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?

I heard about SOLES from a friend who was previously in the program and she encouraged me to apply. I chose to enroll because I heard several positive things about this program and felt that it was a great opportunity to move away from home and to San Diego.

What is your background? For example, where are you from, where else have you earned a degree, and where have you worked?

I am from Yorba Linda, which is in Orange County. I earned my Bachelors of Science degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in the elementary setting from California State University, Fullerton in May 2014. I have previously worked as a student facilitator at Fullerton College where I had the opportunity to tutor students in Algebra I and II and at Glenknoll Elementary After-school Childcare watching second graders.

Tell us about any internships, graduate assistantships, student teaching, practicum or fieldwork you have done through SOLES. Where did you work, what did you do, and how did it impact you?

My practicum placement for the fall semester was at Valencia Park Elementary in a Transition-Kindergarten classroom at a low-income Title I school, which provided me with experiences working with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds that are primarily English language learners. This semester I am placed at High Tech High in a ninth grade class, which is a charter school and is run differently than a traditional public or private school. These placements taught me how to assist students with a disability in an inclusion classroom, and to specifically find strategies and modifications to help meet their needs. In addition, I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with students to assist them in areas that they are struggling in. I learned how to write and conduct lessons for the students when teaching whole-class instruction, small group, or one-on-one. Overall, these fieldwork opportunities taught me a great amount about being in the classroom and taking on the duties of a classroom teacher.

Have you completed an international experience? What did you do?

During my undergrad, I completed an international experience in Thailand where I had the opportunity to teach English to Thai students for a 3-week period. In Thailand, I created, organized, and taught lessons for the students in English, went with them on a field trip to the Queen’s garden, and learned about their culture, backgrounds, and way of life. This experience changed my life and provided me with understanding of the culture and beliefs of those in a different country. Pertaining to my international experience while at USD, I tutored children from Burma that grew up in refugee camps in Thailand, which I planned lessons and tutored students that are learning English and require additional assistance on their homework. Lastly, I visited a Japanese Minato School where I got to observe a lesson in Japanese and learn more about their education system.

What are your plans for after graduation? What is your dream job?

My plans for after graduation are to find a job as a special education or general education teacher in the elementary setting. I plan to continue saving while I work to be able to own my first home somewhere in southern California. I hope to secure a teaching job shortly after graduation so that I can begin my journey teaching and making an impact on children’s lives. However, if I do not find a job immediately after graduation, I am interested in teaching abroad in different countries to gain more experience and understanding towards other cultures different than my own.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?

Relax and enjoy these two years because they will fly by. Also, make sure to develop relationships with your teachers because they are your biggest advocates and they take great pride in helping you to be successful.