A non-traditional student embraces tradition


May 4, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Bobbi Doherty is not your typical Arizona State University graduate. She was in her 40s when she decided to switch her career path and turn to education. Bobbi Doherty Bobbi Doherty has signed my first contract to teach seventh- and eighth-grade social studies in the Florence Unified School District. She secured a job at a local school district while maintaining a GPA to qualify her to graduate summa cum laude when she receives her bachelor's in secondary education–history. Download Full Image

In addition to her roles of wife and mother, Doherty has managed to complete her coursework, student teaching and the necessary Arizona educator certifications. Most recently, she secured a job at a local school district while maintaining a GPA to qualify her to graduate summa cum laude when she receives her bachelor's in secondary education–history in May.

Doherty’s journey to earn her degree started at Chandler Gilbert Community College. In 2016, she was at the top of her class and was awarded Promising Educator of the Year – Secondary Education 2016. She transferred to ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College as a junior. A first-generation college graduate, she had never thought of higher education as an option. Doherty credits higher education for helping her earn the skills and confidence necessary to go into her own classroom and teach the future of Arizona.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I have always wanted to be a teacher, but the moment I knew I was in the right field of study was recently in my student teaching, when a student told me I was the best teacher they ever had and that I helped her understand history. She said that I make learning fun.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: That people do not understand the full scope of an educator’s role in the school and in our society. I can honestly say teaching is the most important profession; without teachers, there would not be other professions.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU has one of the best teaching programs in the country — in my opinion the best that Arizona has to offer! I am proud to be a graduate of Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College at Arizona State University.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Four years may seem like a long time, but it comes fast. Work hard, but have fun too!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My homebase is the courtyard in the Farmer Building; it's peaceful and it's my ASU home.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I have signed my first contract to teach seventh- and eighth-grade social studies in the Florence Unified School District.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Of course improving the state of education, and it would start at home here in Arizona.

Written by Trista Sobeck

Education student takes kindness to a whole new level


May 4, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Ana Contreras immigrated to Phoenix from Mexico with her family when she was three years old. One of her first memories she has is of the Head Start program and the kind teachers she had. woman holding arm up in the air Download Full Image

That kindness continued throughout her education. Contreras said her family didn’t have the means to buy her nice things like some of her classmates had, but her teachers made her feel special.

“Whenever I thought about teaching, I thought about kind people,” she said.

Contreras has been teaching kindergarten for 10 years and recently came back to Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College to pursue a master’s degree in educational policy. As a single mother, she waited until her daughter was older to go back to school.

Although Contreras enjoys the classroom she feels she can make a greater impact with policy work.

“Policy gives me a voice. Not only do I want to help students, I want to support teachers,” she said. “It’s a critical time in Arizona and we need to take advantage of the momentum.” 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: I had been searching for some time for a graduate program and then one day during my lunch period at work, I saw that ASU was offering a master's in educational policy. Immediately, I was intrigued. I felt that teachers often don’t have their voices heard. Through this program I knew I would learn the tools and learn how to navigate the systems to support public education.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I realized I had more knowledge about policy practices in public schools and that my voice needed to be heard.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: ASU was the only school to offer this program. Since I completed my undergrad at ASU, I knew it would be of high caliber with some of the most talented professors. Dr. David Garcia was one of the professors I was eager to have because of his extensive knowledge of Arizona’s education system.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: It is possible to work full-time and go to school full-time, but do not forget to take care of yourself. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: ASU offers many shady spots with benches and I enjoyed taking time to relax before class or to chat with a classmate.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Use my knowledge to bring awareness to the needs of teachers and students in our public schools.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Provide scholarships to single parents for child care to allow them to return to school.

Written by Trista Sobeck