Student Spotlight: Michelle Bagwell | El Paso, TX

I received my Bachelor’s in English from Pacific Union College, near my hometown of Napa, California. I have taught language arts all over the United States for nearly every grade level: In Napa, I worked as a 9th grade English teacher and an elementary school resource specialist; I then moved to Hawaii for five years, where I taught remedial reading to middle school; in Connecticut, I had a three year break from teaching to work on raising my four children; after that, I moved to Arizona and taught middle school literature; now I’m in El Paso, Texas teaching developmental English at El Paso Community College.

I always had an interest in literacy and knew that I wanted to focus my career on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). My mother is from Mexico, and I have a particular passion for helping immigrants acclimate to the United States through learning English. I am also fascinated with other cultures and love to learn more about the customs of other countries. I knew that I wanted a Master’s in TESOL, but it was difficult for me to stay in one place long enough for me to finish a traditional program from a university as well respected as USC.

When I learned about the MAT@USC, I was absolutely thrilled that I could attend! I am part of the May 2011 cohort and will be walking for my commencement in May 2012! The MAT@USC has been an absolutely amazing experience for me. I have had professors who are leaders in the TESOL field, and their knowledge and direction have given me tools that I know will make me successful in the classroom. I have been challenged and given so many opportunities to learn about pedagogy and practices in ESL from a curriculum that is rigorous but manageable. I have had the pleasure of meeting classmates from all over the world who bring their own perspectives and experience to our courses — something that’s not typical in a traditional classroom. I know that I have met people in my program whom I will have as lifelong friends. My brother is a fellow Trojan and graduated from USC with a Master’s in TESOL as well, but he attended classes on campus. Soon we will both have the same degree from the same university!

When I graduate from the program in May, I plan to continue teaching at El Paso Community College. Already so many doors have opened up to me: I’m part of a developmental team implementing a new degree program at EPCC, I have been slotted to work full time as a developmental English and ESL teacher, and I am a candidate for short-term fellowships overseas in Kenya and Indonesia. This could never have happened without the MAT@USC!

While I am so excited to see what more will lie ahead of me when I finish my degree, I am also a little bit disappointed that my term in the MAT@USC will be coming to a close. This past year has been such a wonderful, professionally enriching adventure that I will miss it. I will always know that I am a Trojan though and that I will be forever linked to one of the best schools in the world. For that I am so grateful and proud. FIGHT ON!