Sarina Chugani Molina

New Assistant Professor joins Department of Learning and Teaching

Dr. Sarina Chugani Molina

Sarina Chugani Molina, Ed.D.

Sarina Chugani Molina joined the Learning and Teaching faculty as an assistant professor this fall, teaching Second Language Acquisition and Development and a brand-new class for the new undergraduate minor in Education: Learning and Teaching 101.  Molina helped develop the curriculum for the new course, which is designed to teach historical and current views of education, examining motives for teaching, tension points including access to education, international perspectives of education, and equality of educational opportunity and gender issues.

Dr. Molina knows firsthand some of the tensions in education. She is the youngest of three daughters born in a small Japanese village to a family that had strong ties to its Sind roots and community in India.

While Molina’s parents emphasized the importance of doing well in their international school and worked hard to create a home that was conducive to studying, they did not expect for their daughters to pursue higher education because the Sindhi community did not necessarily encourage women to go to college.  Molina remembers her eldest sister and the principal of their school arguing with her parents to allow her to go to college. Eventually, her parents came around. 

“They said if we don’t let her go, we will lose a daughter, so we must turn around and support her,” Molina recalls.  However, it was not without backlash from their community. Their controversial decision upset many family members as well as members of the Sindhi community. All three of the Chugani sisters attended The University of Hawaii, which eventually paved the way for many other women in their community. Molina earned both her bachelors degree in Japanese and master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Hawaii and a doctorate in Education from SOLES.

One of Molina’s research interests is language acquisition. Inspired by her father’s experiences with learning new languages, she has taught English as a second language at several levels for credit and non-credit courses at Palomar and Mira Costa Colleges.  She also developed the international TESOL program for the English Language Academy at USD, a certificate program for aspiring ESL teachers. 

Dr. Molina found her students in the English as a second language program in Escondido to be particularly inspiring.  Her students, who ranged from 18 to 68 years old, would often work long, hard days before coming to class.

They were enrolled to “help their children with homework or to get a better job to provide for their families or send money back home.  They had such noble reasons, and I find that inspiring,” Molina said.

Access to education is another tension that Molina examines in Learning and Teaching 101.  Some students have to travel great distances to attend classes. Molina teaches her class about students in Brazil who have to zip-line great distances to get to school. 

“We complain if we have to park at the bottom of the hill,” Molina laughed.

For students have been fortunate enough to have been given opportunity for education, Molina teaches them to not take it for granted and to consider the social responsibility to help others who were not afforded that privilege. We have the “power and privilege to be the change agents, carving a path for those who are not able to easily access education,” she said.