Catherine Babcock, a student in the teacher credentialing program offered through Pacific Union College’s Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE), was recently honored as one of 1,000 students in California selected to receive a Governor’s Teaching Fellowship. This $20,000 award is designed to help pay education and living expenses for qualified students enrolled in a teacher credentialing program. In return, Catherine will teach for four years in a state designated, low-performing school.
So how does it feel to receive a $20,000 check from the government? “I couldn’t believe it at first,” says Catherine. “They sent a letter of congratulations—and you get so many letters promising stuff that isn’t true. I thought, ‘Is this real?’ Now I’m very proud and excited.”
The education department at Pacific Union College shares Catherine’s excitement. “We are extremely proud of Catherine’s award,” said Jean Buller, professor of education and chair of the education department. “We always knew we had special students at PUC and this award only confirms that.”
When asked what she will do with the money, Catherine says it will help her pay off the thousands of dollars she owes in student loans. Ever since she came to the United States from Costa Rica in 1982, Catherine has been in school, first to learn English and later to work towards her career as a teacher.
Originally a student in PUC’s on-campus credentialing program, Catherine was forced to withdraw when a high-risk pregnancy made it difficult for her to continue the long commute and demanding coursework. But her professors at PUC didn’t forget about her. When PUC began to offer an off-campus credential program through CAPE, Marsha Crow, a credential analyst and associate professor in PUC’s education department, was quick to notify Catherine.
“Marsha was excited. She called me up to tell me I could still earn my credentials. And I did it,” Catherine says proudly, “new baby and all! God has been so good to me.”
Catherine currently teaches at New Beginnings in Napa, a program that helps teenage girls (who are pregnant or raising small children) earn their high school diplomas. Eventually, Catherine hopes to find a job at one of the three low performing schools in Napa. The $20,000 governor’s grant becomes a loan and must be repaid if the recipient doesn’t begin working for a state-designated school. For now, Catherine is more concerned about studying for the MSAT and RICA, the last two tests standing between her and her credentials.
Catherine isn’t complaining—just being honest—when she describes her life: “I’m a busy parent with language limitations. I’m raising three kids while I work full time and go to school at night.” What would she change if she could? “I wish that we had all received the award,” Catherine laments, referring to her classmates. The sincerity in her voice is obvious as she describes CAPE students and the institution they attend: “We are all in school to work hard for what we want and PUC has been great. It’s a Christian place, and everyone is supportive and helpful.”