Student Profile: Olivia Nguyen stresses the importance of socioemotional learning

Monday, October 3, 2022
Olivia Nguyen

GGSE: What made you want to be a teacher, and why an MST credential?
Olivia Nguyen: I want to be the teacher I always needed. I grew up in a predominantly white Massachusetts suburb where there was very little BIPOC representation. As I continue to reflect on my past educational experiences, I know now more than ever how vital it is to feel like BIPOC, like myself, belong in the classroom. Education should take into consideration what our students bring into the classroom and what we can do to provide them with the highest quality and most equitable education possible. I specifically chose to obtain my MST credential because of my passion for elementary education, especially within the context of how important socioemotional learning is for young students as they learn how to navigate their academic and social worlds. The elementary years are such a formative time so I am devoted to providing my students with a physically, emotionally, and socially safe and responsive classroom in which they can thrive academically and developmentally. What made me become an educator is wanting to cultivate this space for students to grow not only as scholars, but as empathic individuals, which is something I wish my former classmates and I could have experienced.

GGSE: What made you choose the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at UCSB to do your graduate school work?
Nguyen: I chose TEP at UCSB to do my graduate course work because I know through experience that the instructors here truly care about and advocate for us as teacher candidates. As an alum, UCSB has been a place I am proud to call home. You can’t beat the atmosphere, location, and quality of education UCSB has to offer!

GGSE: Who was your favorite teacher in your life, and why?
Nguyen: My favorite teacher in my life has been my dad. He has modeled what resilience looks like in education. He immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 11 due to the war, yet he persevered in school because he knew what the power of education holds, especially for people of color. He always taught me how to persist as a student, and now as I pursue a career in education, he continues to motivate me and support me unconditionally for which I am incredibly thankful. My father taught me that there is power and strength in being educated and I hope to teach my students the importance of education one day like my father did for me.

GGSE: If you have any free time (we realize how consuming TEP is), how do you like to spend it?
Nguyen: Lately I have been spending my free time reading. My favorite genre at the moment is thriller. I love that feeling of an adrenaline rush but also being able to experience it from the comfort of my home. It’s amazing to me how a book can give me the same feeling as a rollercoaster does— it leaves me wanting to go on another ride.