Q&A With MAT-TESOL Student Ezequiel Medina


Ezequiel “Zeke” Medina is a Master of Arts in Teaching — Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT-TESOL) student from El Cajon, California. He works as a supervisor cost analyst for General Dynamics NASSCO with the hopes of adding the title “teacher” to his resume. Medina is scheduled to graduate in December 2016 and plans to teach English to Iraqi refugees in his hometown. Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, his family moved to San Diego, where he attended high school and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from San Diego State University. He and his wife have two children — a 9-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. Read on to learn more about Medina’s experience in the online program and his plans for the future.

Why did you choose to pursue your degree online?

I wanted to be closer to home, keep a full-time job and be able to be a dad who’s present at home. The online degree allows me to attend a reputable school from home. It also gives me the flexibility to be mobile, check on my school progress everywhere I go and actually make some progress when I’m on the go.

I don’t have to drive long distances or be stressed about not making it to class due to traffic. I’ve even seen some classmates who are at work and at school at the same time. A classmate from Cuernavaca, Mexico, told me once that she was visiting some friends in another state while we were in class. So, the flexibility is the main reason why I chose to go online versus going to an on-campus program.

Why did you enroll in your program? What are you hoping to accomplish with your degree?

I have a passion for helping out my community. I would like to help make my city a better place to live, and I think teaching English as a second language is a great place to start. I want to help out my school district, help my city perform better and help develop good citizens.

What are the best aspects of your program?

The best aspects have been my student support advisor, the classroom experience and the interesting classmates. My student support advisor has made a big difference. She evaluated me at the beginning of the program, in the middle of the term and at the end of the term, always focused on my experience and what I was getting out of the program. The professors and technology make the classroom experience very personal. And like a regular classroom, we are easily put in groups, and the professors are able to check on progress.

The professors also understand that some classmates have full-time jobs, and they accommodate special circumstances. The classmates I’ve met have been awesome and come from all over the world — including China, Korea, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Is there an interesting professor or classmate you’ve met?

One of my classmates — Steven Bouffioux — is teaching English as a foreign language in Korea to elementary students. I’ve learned a whole new perspective from Steven due to his experiences with Korea’s culture, their political views and academic regulations, which are much different than in the United States. I’ve had the opportunity to have Steven as a partner throughout the term; we’ve written papers together, held weekly group sessions and had great conversations.

We heard you wanted to teach TESOL to help the Iraqi refugee population in El Cajon. Can you tell us why, and what motivated you to do this?

El Cajon is in San Diego County, which has the largest population of Iraqi refugees in the United States. My family and I live in El Cajon; it’s our home, and I see that our schools and our city need help. I became motivated to do this after receiving a letter from my children’s school stating that, due to the school’s low academic performance, the kids had the opportunity to transfer schools.

After speaking with my daughter’s teacher at the time, I learned of the shift in the school’s standards to better accommodate the large number of students immigrating to our community. I think there is an opportunity for me in my city to help the arriving immigrant population assimilate to their new culture by teaching their new language.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to be teaching adults at night school, leading as a school administrator or teaching at the college level.

Do you have any advice or thoughts you would like to pass along to someone considering Rossier’s online degree program?

Pay attention and follow the advice of the awesome team of advisors from the beginning of the orientation. Be ready as soon as classes start. In this program you have to attend all of the classes or you’ll fall behind quickly. When the syllabus says you’ll need three hours outside of class for every lecture hour, they really mean it.


Learn more about the MAT–TESOL program at USC Rossier.