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

Born into teaching, compelled by music


May 4, 2018

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

Lora Eger never questioned what she wanted to do with her life: “I was born into teaching. Both of my parents are teachers, and I have known nothing less.” Lora Eger Lora Eger is receiving her bachelor's in elementary education–STEM. Download Full Image

Eger grew up in the small community of San Tan Valley, Arizona, and is now student teaching at a charter school in the same area. She teaches seventh-grade math and has signed a contract to teach at the school next year.

Along with teaching, Eger enjoys music. She grew up going to ASU football games and dreaming about being in the Sun Devil marching band. Eger promised herself she would be on that field — and she did just that.

Initially, Eger enrolled at ASU as a music education major, but quickly switched to elementary education with a minor in music.

“I knew I could make more of an impact teaching all subjects — not just music,” she said.

As she looks ahead to next year, Eger says she wants to “be the change the future generations need. I hope to make some sort of difference.”

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

Answer: I was born into teaching. Both of my parents are teachers, and I have known nothing less. Teaching in my family has always been an incredibly rewarding field, and I wanted to be the change the future generations need. I have seen the light teachers offer in a place that can be cruel, and I hope to be some sort of difference. I always knew this was a profession for me.

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

A: Despite growing up in a relatively small town, I always tried my best in school. I tried to set myself apart by being a positive role model.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I always wanted to be in the Sun Devil Marching Band. I grew up going to the football games and dreaming of marching in Sun Devil Stadium. I promised myself I would be on that field, and I made it happen.

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

A: Network, network, network! Get your name out there, and don't be afraid to ask questions along the way. You have to stand out in a positive fashion. If you need a resource, having someone to go to can be very reassuring. You never know what amazing opportunities will fall in your lap.

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

A: The Polytechnic campus is in the middle of the Sonoran landscape. There are nooks all over campus in between the outside hallways. The connection between the two buildings has a seating area directly under a breathtaking wire structure where flowers bloom and vines stretch out. In the springtime, I can't get enough.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I have signed a contract for an incredible school in Queen Creek, Arizona, teaching seventh-grade mathematics.

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

A: If I had $40 million, I would try to put a dent in the cleaning of ocean pollution. I would invest in research and creation of different resources that are more biodegradable and accessible to our population. In addition, I would sponsor ocean clean-ups and reduce the amount of trash pollution in the ocean “dump.”

Written by Trista Sobeck