Gerlyn Gonzalez Escalona is currently a graduate student in the Teacher Education Program pursuing a Master’s in Education and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. She graduated from UC Irvine in 2021 with a B.A. in Education Sciences and a minor in Spanish/English Bilingual Education. During her undergraduate studies, she found her passion for teaching and working with students in her field study as a bilingual tutor and as a UCI Gear Up Tutor. As a first-generation student, Gerlyn hopes to inspire students with similar backgrounds. She is also invested in providing an equitable learning environment in which students will be encouraged to persevere despite any obstacles in their educational endeavors. She hopes to create a classroom space where all students are welcomed, valued, and represented in order for them to embrace their community and identity.
GGSE: What are you most looking forward to in the coming school year?
Gonzalez Escalona: Honestly, I am looking forward to everything this upcoming school year. I am excited to be back in the classroom after not being on campus since the pandemic started. I miss interacting with my peers and instructors in person. School is definitely not the same on Zoom as it is in-person. However, I am most looking forward to student teaching and learning from various teachers/instructors. Never did I imagine receiving this opportunity, and I want to make the most out of it by taking any advice, tips, and opportunities from students and teachers.
GGSE: Tell us about your time as a UCI Gear Up Tutor. How did it help you grow as an educator?
Gonzalez Escalona: UCI Gear Up was my first official tutoring job, which solidified what I wanted to do as a professional and where I wanted to be in the future. During my time there, I worked under the Director, Dr. Rodolfo Acosta, and Community Coordinator, Daisy Osorio Velaquez, who guided me and gave me the opportunity to tutor first-generation, low-income, and underserved students. As a tutor, it was my responsibility to ensure that students received academic help while also bonding with them. I enjoyed my time there because my life and educational journey paralleled what these students were going through. Being a tutor showed me how crucial a teacher’s job is and how they can make a positive impact in a student’s life. As a UCI Gear Up Tutor, I realized that students spend the majority of their time on campus, and they have so much potential to succeed, but we must find various strategies and resources to support and help them grow.
GGSE: What's the best advice a professor has ever given you?
Gonzalez Escalona: One of my UCI professors once stated that the lines of life are too short and if what you are doing is not with passion and does not bring you joy then do not pursue. I was struck by this advice, as it embodied the advice that my mother bestowed upon me over the years. My mother always advised me to make the most out of life because you never know when it will get taken away from you. I realized that no one benefits from doing something halfway or with a bad attitude. Seeing the parallels of advice from my professor and mother cultivated a sense of how to approach my passions and life trajectory. Therefore, I live by this advice and choose to do only what brings me happiness and what I am truly passionate about.
GGSE: Who, living or dead, do you most admire?
Gonzalez Escalona: The people that I admire the most are my parents. From a very young age, my dad had to stop going to school and join the workforce to help out his family. His work ethic and dedication to his job is impeccable. He never complains about working long hours in various weather conditions and always finds a way to spread joy to his family and others. He has taught me that if I want something I must fight and work hard for it because nothing in life comes easy. As for my mom, she is the most determined and passionate woman I have ever met. She is what I consider to be Wonder Woman, she gets any job done and she’ll do it with dedication. Similar to my dad, she works long hours and in any weather conditions the day brings her. My mom strives for excellence at work while also maintaining an efficiently running household. Though always busy, her positive attitude and mentality is what carries her. My mother continues to make me realize that I only have one life, and I must make the most out of it, but always with a positive outlook. My parents work ethic and optimism is admirable, and I hope to continuously make them proud of what they have helped create.