Admission Essay: MA in International Education
As a person who is already deeply and actively involved in many aspects of education, I believe that this program is a perfect fit for me, particularly as I will be entering the program with that existing wealth of experience. Additionally, I believe that I am fortunate in having a special insight, being a first generation Chinese-American college student. For example, I am able to relate to the specific needs of immigrant students coming to be educated in the United States, such as having to adjust to the culture and to acquire better English language skills in an accelerated timeframe.
I have taken a number of educational courses and achieved good results in all of them, providing me with the needed theoretical knowledge to give me a good grounding at the outset. This year I have obtained a BA degree in English at UC Berkeley, with a minor in Education (GPA 3.59).
I am highly computer literate, and fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. I possess strong communication skills (oral and written), which I have found to be invaluable in literacy coaching and in working with adult ELLs. Those skills have also stood me in good stead when working with children aged from 4-17 years and who are from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
I have gained a tremendous amount of practical experience by being actively engaged in over 1,000 hours of hands-on experience with students from a wide range of age groups. That experience has included my work with the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart, and my position as a community programs specialist, leading a college readiness program for immigrant students. That work experience is ideal to put theory into practice and to enhance insight into the many issues surrounding the education system in America – particularly its implications for international education.
Expanding on that hands-on experience, I sincerely believe that it is not only invaluable to someone aspiring towards a career in education administration, but also helps to see issues from different perspectives. Even my most recent time as a kindergarten classroom aide (Sept. 2013 to the present), has helped me to view classroom situations and activities and gain an appreciation of both the teacher’s perspective and that of the young students. Also, my participation over much the same time period (Aug. 2013 to the present) as a volunteer member of the Jumpstart Corps has helped me in other ways. I helped younger children with their language and literacy skills, whilst encouraging greater parental support in the learning environment. At the same time I was able to benefit from intensive training in both the theory and practice of early childhood education, including topics such as language and literacy development, leadership skills, and how to improve communication with students’ families.
Running in parallel with the above activities, I have been attending the North Beach Beacon Center in San Francisco as a Community Programs Specialist, which involves the following roles and activities:
- Developing and implementing workshops for high school students, regarding academic readiness and college admissions;
- Organizing outside learning experiences, to encourage community involvement, leadership, and college readiness;
- Holding monthly one-on-one progress check meetings with the students to ensure they are on track for graduation and college;
- Establishing and maintaining a positive and safe environment for the teen program participants, including assisting with classroom and behavior management;
- Facilitating program activities and support groups for youth and parents;
- Tutoring high school freshmen and sophomores in an engaging manner to build academic skills;
- Encouraging consistent program attendance by building positive relationships with students and their families.
Prior to my time at the North Beach Beacon Center, I acted as a first and second grade department coordinator for a bilingual summer youth program at Donaldina Cameron House, also in San Francisco, where I had similar roles to the above, but also working with and coordinating high school youth volunteers participating in the program. Before that I had acted in other support roles, including an after school tutor and mentor at a Catholic school, and a literacy coach at an elementary school. In all these activities, I have been cognisant that I need to be perceived as a role model to the young people in my group, and that my behavior can help shape their own.
I am convinced that every one of those experiences has helped build and/or reinforce my experiential knowledge of various aspects of education, and has ideally prepared and equipped me for not only the M.A. course in international education but for a subsequent career in that field. It is my firm conviction that whilst study is vitally important, it needs to be complemented by practical experience to make a person a good administrator in education, as in any other field of endeavor.
In my heart I feel it is not just my goal but also my responsibility as a committed educator to contribute to national and international educational policies, which can bring together scholars of the future – promoting cosmopolitanism in education. That objective is at the core of my wider interests in topics such as immigration patterns, and the impacts of globalization on international education.
In the medium to longer term, my career plan is to become deeply involved in higher education administration, and thereby to help develop education programs that accommodate the needs of 21st century international education, including the necessary ongoing adjustment of policies to accommodate the impacts of globalization.