MAT–TESOL Graduate Spotlight: Christopher Bankston

Christopher Bankston
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Program: Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL

USC Rossier Master of Arts in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT – TESOL) graduate Christopher Bankston started a career in business and eventually decided to pursue his passion for teaching by enrolling in the MAT – TESOL program at the USC Rossier School of Education. Below, Bankston shares the meaningful experiences he had in the program and how it propelled him in the very direction he had hoped for since he was young.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Teaching is going to be my second career. My first career was in international business management. It had been a very rewarding career, and I had always felt like a teacher with my teams of people that reported to me. I had wanted to go back to school and get an MBA, but it didn’t feel right. I had an epiphany one day and decided that I would be much happier if I changed my career to teaching to give back to the community for all I had received.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

I did not receive my associate’s or bachelor’s degree at USC, and I had always wanted to be a Trojan ever since I was a child, so that was my first motivation. Secondly, I was simply amazed at the technology that has been developed for distance learners, such as myself, and I believed that my educational experience would not be degraded if I were not sitting physically in a classroom.

I was simply amazed at the technology that has been developed for distance learners, such as myself, and I believed that my educational experience would not be degraded if I were not sitting physically in a classroom.

What about the MAT program did you find most valuable?

The placement program by far was the most valuable! My placement adviser, Julie Snively, managed to place me at an exceptional college where I was able to do my classroom observations and teaching learning experiences throughout the entire program. It went so well that I was recently hired by the college. Thank you, Julie, and thank you, USC!

What surprised you the most about the program?

The quality (and volume) of the reading material that we used was most surprising. A lot of this material I will keep and reference again and again for years to come. I also had several exceptional instructors, such as Dr. Min and Dr. Ferrario. They pushed me to new levels of thinking and skill development, and I am eternally grateful for their efforts to make me a transformational teacher.

How did your field experience prepare you for the classroom?

The field experience is invaluable. To be able to sit in classrooms for an entire semester or quarter and observe the teaching process is in itself transformational. We are so used to being the student that we never have a chance to sit on the sideline and observe all of the nuances. Further, to be able to actually stand before the class and teach lessons is a real must. I cannot imagine having to teach a first class now without this prior experience.

What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?

As I mentioned previously, I was recently hired by my college, so I am now working there as an instructional support specialist. Starting this fall, I will be teaching my own ESL classes. I have also been accepted into the USC Global Executive Doctor of Education Program, which I will be starting this coming July.

What would you tell someone who wants to pursue a MAT at USC?

Go for it! Go for it! Go for it! You won’t regret it.