Home / Blog / “Welcome, Ms. H!”

“Welcome, Ms. H!”

Did you know that 82% of college students with both parents having attained a bachelor’s degree or higher complete college, but only 26% of first-generation college students ever complete their degree? With the national college completion rate coming in at 62.3%, it’s clear that first-generation students like me face unique challenges that hinder college completion.

Even though I made it to college after graduating high school, I struggled to complete my studies. In fact, I went to four different institutions, starting first at California State University Bakersfield, and still lacked the support and consequently, motivation, to excel and finish. Even though my older brother is an engineer, my parents only have an elementary-level education, so it felt like something I was left to figure out on my own. I felt pressured to know what I wanted to do with my life, but different things would catch my eye. I started as a nursing student at CSUB then became a psychology major focused on child development at a community college. I didn’t feel comfortable in college – it just didn’t feel like it was designed for me.

I was still interested in working with young children, so when I saw an opening for a PE teacher at Rocketship Redwood City, I went for it. But I saw that the position required a bachelor’s degree andI was able to land an ISE paraprofessional role instead. I fell in love with my students almost immediately. From day one, all of my Rocketship team members have been so kind of helpful, and I was learning so much every day. Eventually, I grew into an interventionist role, helping students make major academic strides in math and reading. But I wanted to grow more as an educator, and I knew I would have to get my bachelor’s degree to unleash my full potential.

A couple of years ago, I found out about Rocketship’s partnership with Rivet School from a coworker. I recognized that this was a great opportunity for me to finally get my bachelor’s and become a full-time classroom teacher so I could continue to do what I am meant to do – help the students and families in my community flourish and grow.

My Rivet School experience was nothing like my first experiences at college. First of all, I had such a great counselor at Rivet that supported me every step of the way. I will never forget the first time Coach Melissa and I met on Zoom, and she helped me figure out FAFSA. Rocketship’s contribution towards tuition was invaluable, and my coach helped me ensure all my financial needs were met from the get go. She also made the credit transfer process smooth and seamless.

The self-paced, visual curriculum helped me learn in the way I learn best. I used to feel so pressured in college to perform because everything was happening so fast. I was able to organize my schooling around my work schedule so I could continue working full time with my students. So I could go slow when I needed to, but I could also accelerate my learning during the summer. In college, I used to get lost in big classes, too nervous to ask questions. But at Rivet, I felt like I could always ask questions and lean on Coach Melissa. And it only took a year and a half to turn my associate’s degree into a bachelor’s degree and my dream into reality.

This year, I’m teaching TK, and I love it so much. I get to teach full lessons and deliver new content to my students. Growing up, I was shy and never felt seen by my teachers. I didn’t fully understand the “point” of school, so it’s no surprise that my first forays into post-secondary education were lackluster. So for my students, I want to break that cycle. I know every one of my Rocketeers, and I know them well. I love the home visits so much because I get to connect with each student’s family. My favorite home visit memory is when I visited a student’s home and the family had food and a “Welcome, Ms. H!” banner waiting for me at the entrance. That’s when I finally felt like I made it, after all of these years.

It’s no secret that my favorite thing about coming to work is building relationships with parents and families. And for every birthday in my class, I invite families to come and bring food and piñatas for the kids to enjoy. This makes school fun and motivating for my Rocketeers. I want them to know what I didn’t growing up – that they belong here. They belong at Rocketship.

Published on February 23, 2024

Read more stories about: Uncategorized.