The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $1.1 million grant to the College of Education and Integrative Studies in 2017 to help alleviate the shortage of special education teachers throughout Southern California. Now in its fourth year, the grant has been fully funded.
The federal grant offers full-tuition scholarships for new post-baccalaureate students wishing to pursue their first teaching credential in moderate/severe special education or adapted physical education authorization and their master’s degrees in special education or adapted physical education. The scholarship, which is known as Special Educators of Excellence in Diverse Settings (SEEDS), has been awarded to the following students:
- Alejandro Chavez
- Elizabeth Mason
- Rebecca Plummer
- Claudia Esquivel
- Vince Gaytan
- Hailey Waite
- Savannah Garthwaite
- Tara Adame
- Clarissa Standafer
- Anahi Prado Hernandez
- Nicholas Escobedo
- Victor Celaya
- Stephanie Torres
- Jessica Snyder
- Serena Manjur
- Victor M. Garcia
- Esther Kim
- Daniela Ortiz-Silva
- Laura Contreras
- Matthew Doyle
- Joseph Martinez
- Alison Sisco
- Desiree Coleman
In addition to receiving full-tuition scholarships, students were also given money for textbooks, professional conference attendance and technology for use in the program and their future classrooms. Students also had professional development and mentoring support both in the program and when they start teaching.
Scholarship recipient Vince Gaytan, a first-generation college student, said the scholarship has provided relief and saved time.
“Being a father of two and supporting my family on a sole paycheck has been exhausting but having a program like SEEDS gives me less to worry about knowing my tuition is fully funded,” said Gaytan. “In terms of time, it saves me from having to work two jobs to pay for school.”
Gaytan is also an alumnus of the Liberal Studies program at Cal Poly Pomona. After graduating, he began working as a special education instructional aide.
“Special education has been a huge part of my life since 2010 when I first began working as a special education paraprofessional,” said Gaytan. “When I read about Associate Professors Taylor (formerly Wizikowski), Van Boxtel and Foster receiving the SEEDS grant while surfing the CPP website, I felt like it was a sign, I was meant to pursue special education further. It came down to CPP, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State LA, but my positive experience at CPP made me decide to stay with CPP and apply for SEEDS once I got into the credential program.”
Initially, Gaytan didn’t know that he would become an educator until he evaluated his past positions and found that he was always a tutor, coach and more recently a special education aide.
“My life has prepared me to become a teacher, and Cal Poly has made me into one,” said Gaytan. “CPP believed in me even when I didn’t have the confidence that I could make it. Shortly after becoming a SEEDS scholar, my wife and I found out that our son had Autism. When I say my life has been one big circle prepping me to become a special education teacher, I mean it. I am currently interning for my second year teaching 4th and 5th grade. Even now with the stresses of distance learning, I love going to work (virtually) and seeing my students. I try to teach with unmatched passion and a true understanding of my students and their community. Being a special education parent and teacher combined, only makes it easier to understand my students and my son.”
Another recipient, Anahi Prado Hernandez, says the SEEDS scholarship has been very helpful.
“SEEDS has not only supported me financially, but emotionally,” said Prado Hernandez. “Associate Professors Taylor and Van Boxtel are my guides. They give me advice on how to be a successful student, teacher and human. My education is being paid for and I’m actually learning and applying what I’ve learned in my field. I also would like to say that SEEDS is comprised of amazing people. We are all willing to learn, share and apply what we’ve learn in our field. We are what Cal Poly is all about; learn by doing, teamwork and making the world a better place!”
Although the SEEDS Scholarship has been fully funded, CEIS continues to offer various scholarship programs to support future teachers. For more information, visit our scholarship opportunities page.