Gordon Albright School of Education
Diversity Scholarship Recipients - Spring 2006
At City University of Seattle, we believe ethnic diversity in our student body is an important part of the overall learning experience.
It is also our goal to educate and facilitate the placement of teachers of color in classrooms to serve our diverse communities.
Scholarships are available for the Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master in Teaching Programs. To qualify for a Diversity Scholarship each student must:
- Be part of an ethnic minority population
- Demonstrate financial need
- Meet the admissions requirements for the BAEd or MIT programs
- Be seeking initial teacher certification
To date 67 scholarships have been awarded with a tuition value of nearly one million dollars.
Shalina Morrell's biggest goal in life is to become a role model. According to those who have worked extensively with Morrell and
have witnessed her devotion to both her students and family, she has already achieved her objective.
"Shalina's commitment to families and children, her own and those of the community is very powerful," says Thomas Diehm of the
University of Washington Tacoma Social Work Program, where Shalina taught English to Spanish-speaking, immigrant women and their children.
"It was with a great deal of pride that I observed Shalina make this program into something beyond just an English class. Her ability
to do so in a culturally appropriate and respectful way was very impressive and beyond what I would have expected of an undergraduate
Kathryn Amundson, the social work program's assistant professor, agrees. "She demonstrated a penchant for connecting with those
women who had few supports within the community. She inspired them to believe in themselves and develop self-esteem to open more
doors for them. She believed in them until they could believe in themselves."
Morrell, a mother of two, is currently enrolled in City University's Master in Teaching program. Upon graduation, she hopes to
"inspire children to continuously question and think and believe in themselves, which will help guide them to a path of success."
Andrew Velasco believes that the key to understanding people of all types is to have a common plight, concern, or idea that is shared
universally so that everyone can identify with each other. For Velasco, that commonality is sports.
Over the years, he has coached young athletes of many diverse backgrounds in football, basketball, baseball, and wrestling. His experiences
coaching so many different types of children have taught him a great deal about life and getting along with those who are seemingly different.
"I used to coach a baseball team in Yakima that one of the players tabbed 'The United Nations,'" says Velasco. "Out of the fifteen players on the
squad, the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, France, and Cuba were all represented. It made for some interesting taunts at practice all in good
fun of course! The players used their unofficial nickname as a way to bond, and they were the closest group of athletes I have ever worked with
to this day. We were the league champions that year and every day with them was a privilege."
Velasco has taken some time off from coaching to concentrate on earning his master's degree in education at City University but intends to continue
his involvement once he begins teaching. "There are too many coaches who aren’t instilling the proper values and fundamentals of sportsmanship and
love of the game to their players," says Velasco. "I want to make sure that the children in my community learn the games the correct way."
Beau Canares was five years old when his family emigrated from the Philippines and settled in south Seattle's Rainier Valley,
an area long associated with new immigrant populations. As a teenager, he joined the local swim team and eventually landed a
job with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Aquatics Department. During his seven years with the organization, he served as a
lifeguard, coached, and taught swim lessons.
"The children participating in these activities reflected the very diverse make up of the neighborhood and community," says Canares.
"The names and faces of the children I was involved with daily told of families with ties to Africa, Southeast Asia, Asia, the Pacific
Islands, the Middle East, as well as Europe and native Northwest coastal peoples. Not only were there different ethnic backgrounds
represented but also the various socio-economic levels associated with Seattle's neighborhoods of working class, middle, and more
affluent families that bordered each other."
Later, Canares worked at Secret Harbor Cove School, a residential treatment center located on Cypress Island. The school housed thirty
boys between the ages 11 and 15 who had all suffered varying degrees of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Some were wards of the state and
most, if not all, had severe behavioral problems. On the island, Canares admits, he faced his toughest challenges ever.
Canares believes his work with children from different backgrounds and histories has only strengthened his desire to teach.
"I have considered being a teacher throughout my life, and now I feel I am very much ready to dedicate myself to this demanding yet
rewarding task," he says. "My wish is to have a positive impact beyond my own brief time in this world."
When most people think of Hawaii, they think "paradise". Honolulu native Cathy Hamasaki thinks "mosaic."
"I grew up with a rainbow of ethnic backgrounds, including Hawaiian, Portuguese, Samoan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Okinawin,
and European-American," says Hamasaki. "In Hawaii, everything from language to food to education is heavily influenced by a mixture of traditions."
Hamasaki’s exposure to different cultures throughout her life as both a student and volunteer has helped shape her views regarding the importance
of multicultural education: "By recognizing differences and discovering similarities between students, teachers can promote more unity. Unity allows
children to work more cooperatively as a team in the classroom, on the playground, and in the future workplace."
Hamasaki cites her mother, a Washington State elementary school teacher, as her biggest inspiration. "My mother is a prime example of a teacher who
celebrates diversity," she says. "In addition to teaching children about the Pacific Northwest, she brings traditions from Hawaii, where we celebrated
Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese holidays. In her classroom, children are taught how families throughout the world have their own holiday celebrations
and are encouraged to learn about the history of their own family."
Hamasaki intends to use her mother’s techniques in her own classroom once she graduates from City University's Master in Teaching program.
"I hope to challenge students and their families to research their history and recognize and share their ethnic identity," she says. "I want children
to boldly step out of what is familiar to them and try to experience that which is unfamiliar and new."
Throughout her lifetime of traveling, Debra Sampson has selflessly used compassion and her gift of teaching to better the lives of children in
various parts of the world.
When she was sixteen, she met a family of three Mexican children living in a condemned home with a mother they rarely saw. The oldest boy, just
nine years old, cared for the others. Sampson recalls, "I didn’t do anything extraordinary. I simply spent time with them. I did little things
like wash their hair and faces, gave them food, or played with them. My heart is forever bound to them."
After she graduated from high school, she joined the U.S. Army. While stationed in Germany, she befriended a few families and taught their children
English. In Korea, she volunteered at the Seoul Language Institute, teaching English as a second language to middle and high school students there
Years later in Washington State, she grew especially close to a boy with Down's syndrome. One summer, the boy had the opportunity to attend a high
school retreat. His mom agreed to let him go only if Sampson accompanied him. One afternoon, the group of students decided to go hiking. The boy
wanted to join them, but the leader of the group had concerns about him being able to keep up. Sampson told the leader that she would join the hike
and keep an eye on him. "He had so much fun," says Sampson. "I will never forget his beaming face how happy he was for the opportunity to hike in
the mountains with this high school group."
Though Sampson may not consider her efforts "anything extraordinary", others disagree. "While it’s true that most people can learn to become good
teachers," says Daniel Armatas, a fellow teacher at Millennium Elementary, "it’s equally as true that a good teacher needs a heart for kids.
Debra brings her heart into teaching."
Currently, Sampson is enrolled in City University's one year Master in Teaching program.
Erik Gonzales was a bored San Francisco State University freshman when, on his own accord, he wrote a proposal to start an after-school martial
arts program for urban school children at the Chinatown YMCA. The program was so successful, he was asked to start another in the North Beach
district. For Gonzales, the whole experience was magical.
A few semesters later, he began assisting at the Tenderloin Child Care Center, a non-profit day care for children of drug-addicted parents who were
going through recovery.
His job? In his own words, he "just had to care."
"These children came from some of the hardest environments a child can experience," says Gonzales. "All had experienced some sort of abuse whether
it was actual physical abuse or abuse through neglect. All of them were wise beyond their age. I remember a five year old child presenting me
with a "joint" he had rolled on the playground. He had used ordinary paper and filled it with sand from the sandbox."
Gonzalez found it impossible not to become attached to these children who were so tough and independent, yet so in need. Overall, the experience
was, again, magical.
Soon after, he began to realize that his calling was serving others. After graduating from college, he joined the Peace Corps as a youth development
officer. His assignment was in a village on the West Indian Island of Dominica, a former British slave colony that provided almost no opportunity
to its youth population. Guns and drugs were commonplace, and so were teenage girls with babies in their arms. With a grant from the Rotary Club,
Gonzales helped his school reach the information age by bringing in five computers with internet access. He taught both teachers and students how
to use technology in the classroom. Soon after, he built a "staff" of 14 students for the sole purpose of creating a village newspaper.
"My experience with these young adults is difficult to articulate," says Gonzales. "It was at times maddening. At other times, it was comical and
endearing. But on the whole, sheer magic. I am forever grateful for the experience."
Currently, Gonzales is enrolled in City University's Master in Teaching program. Upon graduation, he promises big things. "I feel that my own potential
is boundless and that I will impact the public school system in an exceedingly influential and positive way," he says. "My goal as an educator is
to inspire socially and economically challenged youth and provide them with future opportunities that are seemingly beyond their reach."
While growing up in Japan and Oak Harbor, Washington, Lois Leukhardt had the opportunity to meet and work with people of all kinds. She had
her first contact with diverse groups of children as a little girl growing up in military towns where she watched Filipino, Hispanic,
African-American, and Japanese families "come and go." Later, she volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in Bellingham, Washington, where
she tutored Korean and Hispanic children. Before starting City University's Master in Teaching program, she volunteered in a classroom where
nearly one-half of the children were considered minorities. Today, she provides childcare and support for a Filipino boy.
A Filipino-American, Leukhardt vividly recalls an experience she had in kindergarten that helped shape her beliefs about teaching and learning.
Her teacher had told her parents that they should only speak English, not Tagalog, the native language spoken in the home. Her parents heeded
the advice, and subsequently, Leukhardt lost much of her native language skills.
"I remember struggling to overcome feelings of shame because I was a Filipina who did not know how to speak Tagalog," says Leukhardt. "These are
feelings that many other children must share as they are forced to assimilate."
Leukhardt believes she can help her students feel proud of being different. "Taking an interest in my students and asking them questions about
their ethnicity, as my teachers did for me, will help them learn more and be proud of who they are," she says.
Leukhardt aspires to one day teach in Japan or the Philippines.