Each year, faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) come together to select an outstanding student in their program to receive the honor of being named as their program award winner. Students selected for this award embody the very best of their program: they excel in their studies; they demonstrate leadership in classes and internships; and they have a genuine and tenacious passion for their discipline.
The College of Education and Human Development faculty in Foreign Language and ESL/ESOL Education have chosen
2021 Outstanding Student in Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners – ESOL
Q & A with Outstanding Student in Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners – ESOL, Feiven Zigita:
What part of your Mason experience are you most proud of?
What I am most proud of is receiving the CEHD Program Award. I worked incredibly hard throughout the program, and there were many times where I had that beautiful case of imposter syndrome. I had taken a ten-year break between my undergraduate and graduate to get the experience so that no one could say I did not deserve to be here. In the program, I learned from excellent professors, had knowledgeable mentors, worked with lively students, and now I am an ESOL teacher. I still have times where I worry that I would be “found out.” However, when I saw that I got this award, it made me reframe my thoughts. I did work hard, I did deserve to be here, I had a fantastic experience, and I built beautiful relationships. None of these things can be taken away from me, so I feel proud to have received this award.
What are your future plans, goals, and dreams?
My future plans are to finish my education policy graduate certificate. I aim to learn about the policies set in place so to provide equitable practices and understand the barriers that impede and prevent access to students. Additionally, I want to learn new languages. I say this because it will allow me to put myself in my students’ shoes and understand the difficulty of acquiring a new language. One day, I would like to teach abroad to understand what it is like to learn a new language and to teach in another country.
What is your favorite memory from your time in the College of Education and Human Development?
My favorite memory was the internship last semester. During the internship, I started my first year teaching. The internship challenged me and pushed me in surprising ways. At times, I would be upset with myself if I felt that I did not provide enough support or the lessons did not take. However, in working with my mentor and Dr. Valdez Pierce, I learned that even though it is hard to see that your students are making progress in the day-to-day, they are. I felt that I could do anything. It is my favorite memory because, at the start of the semester, I did not know what I was capable of, and in the end, I felt that if I can do an internship, be a first-year teacher during a pandemic, and teach online, well, I think I can do anything.
What advice do you have for fellow CEHD students?
Congratulations on finding a career that you truly believe in because YOU ARE who your students need. Sleep is essential; please rest! You will make poor decisions and second guess yourself when you don’t get enough sleep. Coffee is not a meal! Mental health is vital, so please take care of yourself. Procrastinating might be an attractive option, but if it means staying up until 3 am when you have to intern at seven, it might be best to plan. If your instructor offers office hours, go! Your mentors are life-savers. You never know when you might need a reference, so make sure to keep in contact with them. Don’t forget to attend the Education Fair in the Spring. Lastly, have fun; this is such a great experience, and it WILL prepare you.
Would you like to give any shout-outs to those who supported you along the way?
I want to thank Dr. Ramos for being so incredibly giving with her time and always providing the best advice. Thank you, Dr. Kim, for your continued support throughout the program. Thank you, Dr. Mattix-Foster, for all your thoughtful responses and your empathy. Thank you, Dr. Valdez Pierce, for always challenging me to be better. A shoutout to Stacy Wilson and Rebekah A. Flis, y’all rock! Lastly, thank you to Marie Champagne for always believing in me. You are the best advisor any person could ever have.