Major Changes

UCR set to offer undergraduate education curriculum; new scholarship aims to send UCR-trained teachers into Riverside schools.

By Tess Eyrich

UCR’s Graduate School of Education may need a new name.

The school received more than 900 applications for fall enrollment in its new undergraduate major: education, society, and human development.

“Students will explore their interests in education and youth development through the lenses of psychology, sociology, history, economics, and other interdisciplinary fields,” said Thomas Smith, dean of the GSOE. “By working directly with faculty whose research is targeted at improving outcomes for youth, our undergraduates will be prepared for careers in youth and community development — including teaching.”

Louie Rodriguez, associate dean of undergraduate education and an associate professor in the GSOE, added that students who complete the major will still need to earn teaching credentials if they want to teach in traditional classrooms. In the meantime, however, they will be able to trace the evolution of the field, look closely at contemporary policies that affect education, and study cutting-edge research trends.

Liliana Aguayo ’05

Most of the GSOE’s 32 professors will teach at least one or two courses of the undergraduate curriculum, and students will follow one of two specializations — learning and behavioral studies or community leadership, policy, and social justice — or take a blend 
 of the two.

A new general support fund for students wishing to pursue the education major has also been established, with the inaugural $2,000 gift coming from Liliana Aguayo ’05, an academic advisor for GSOE’s undergraduate program.

“I strongly believe in the vision of our GSOE undergraduate program, and as an advisor, I have a front row seat to see how my investments directly benefit our students,” Aguayo said.

STEM Pipeline

A separate scholarship fund has been launched by the school in an effort to strengthen its ties with the Riverside Unified School District.

The UCR-RUSD Pipeline Scholarship fund was created to address the worrisome shortage of teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM.

To compete for the annual scholarship, applicants must be students in the GSOE’s teacher education track, be working toward a specialized credential in a STEM subject, and be willing to fulfill their student-teaching requirement in one of the district’s schools. In addition to providing tuition support, the scholarship will offer a guaranteed interview for a teaching position with RUSD to its recipient, who, if offered the position, must commit to remaining within the system for three to five years.

UCR Graduate School of Education Dean Thomas Smith, left, with UCR-RUSD Pipeline Scholarship recipient Maria Hernandez and scholarship fund creators Kathy and John Allavie.

The STEM teacher shortage is not unique to Riverside, said RUSD board member Kathy Allavie, who conceived of the award with her husband, John.

“It’s a national problem: Nobody has enough science and math teachers,” she said. “I had the idea that if we could build some kind of pipeline from UCR’s Graduate School of Education into RUSD, it could be a clever way to help us get some of the teachers we really need — and a way for us to better support those teachers by creating a direct pathway into some of their first jobs.”

Corona-born Maria Hernandez, who attended Riverside’s Ramona High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cal Poly Pomona, is the inaugural recipient of the scholarship. She enrolled in the GSOE’s one-year master of general education program, which also will see her receive a single-subject teaching credential in math when she completes the program in June.

“When I was younger, I remember being in a class where I felt confused all the time,” said Hernandez. “I realized I wanted to help people not to be in my position; I wanted to make other students comfortable enough to ask questions.”

Visit giving.ucr.edu to learn more about the scholarship funds and make a donation.