The 2023 Gevirtz Endowment Fellows: Estefanía Becerra Hernández, Kiahna Cantu, Yuri Cruz, Montserrat Gonzalez Vega, Julia Karagan, Ashley Niño

The 2023 Gevirtz Endowment Fellows: (top, l-r) Estefanía Becerra Hernández, Kiahna Cantu, Yuri Cruz, (bottom, l-r) Montserrat Gonzalez Vega, Julia Karagan, Ashley Niño

Estefanía Becerra Hernández, Kiahna Cantu, Yuri Cruz, Montserrat Gonzalez Vega, Julia Karagan, and Ashley Niño of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School have been chosen as the 2023 Gevirtz Endowment Fellowship recipients. All six are in the Teacher Education Program. Gevirtz Fellowships are awarded from an endowed fund dedicated to supporting GGSE programs, activities, and students who have demonstrated financial need and show academic promise and leadership that will positively impact public education. Students from all areas of the Gevirtz School are eligible. This fellowship is made possible by the generosity and legacy of Don and Marilyn Gevirtz.

Estefanía Becerra Hernández is a first-generation undocu student pursuing an M.Ed in Education and a single-subject credential in Spanish. She graduated from UCSB in 2022 with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Applied Psychology. Estefanía decided to pursue teaching because she wants to support children who were once in her position and overall support people in her community. Being a native Spanish speaker, she grew to have a love for her language, and majoring in it deepened that appreciation. By teaching Spanish, she strives to share that appreciation for the language as well as share the beautiful cultures that surround it.

Kiahna Cantu is a proud Chicana from South Whittier, California who is pursuing her Masters of Education and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. Prior to her work at UCSB, Kiahna attended the University of California, Los Angeles where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Educational Studies. While her passions and motivations to be an English teacher lie in her innate belief in the power of language, her pedagogy is rooted in a desire to bring dynamic learning (with an emphasis in self-advocacy) to communities of color that have previously gone underrepresented and underserved. She hopes to equip her students with the tools they need to be informed, confident, community-oriented leaders.

Montserrat González Vega is a Teacher Education Program candidate pursuing a Masters of Education, as well as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with a Bilingual Authorization in Spanish. Originally from Mexico City, Montserrat obtained a first-class B.A. in International Media and Communication Studies at the University of Nottingham in England. Before moving to California to begin her Master’s Program, Montse had been employed as a Teaching Assistant for four years at an international Apple school in Mexico City, which was where she was able to nurture and consolidate her commitment to pursuing a career as an educator. Montse is excited to continue working to inspire a life-long love of learning in her students with the hope that they might never stop striving to better understand the world we live in, themselves and one another.

Julia Karagan is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in addition to a Single Subject Teaching credential in English Language Arts. She just recently graduated from the University of Toronto where she completed a major in English and a double minor in French and Philosophy. Julia has known that the classroom is where she belongs since the ripe age of seven. No matter where life takes her, she has always found herself being drawn to education and helping students reach their highest potential. Her mission in teaching English is personal empowerment. Julia says that she will teach and listen with compassion to empower her students to become better critical and creative thinkers. The personal empowerment achieved through independent and critical thinking will not only allow them to flourish academically, but also will translate into their lives beyond school.

Ashley Niño is pursuing her Multiple Subject Credential, M.Ed., and Bilingual Authorization. Ashley graduated from California State University, Fresno as a first-generation student and received her B.A. in Liberal Studies. Having been in a dual immersion program growing up, Ashley always knew that she wanted to be a bilingual teacher herself. She is excited to be attending UCSB and is looking forward to bringing inspiration and inclusivity to her future classroom.