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May 16, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Outstanding Young Man and Young Woman of the Year

  |   Video
  • The Outstanding Young Man and Young Woman (OYMYW) of the Year program recognizes and honors the outstanding achievements of young people, enhances the perception of youth and raises community awareness of the positive contributions of youth. The 2013 Outstanding Young Woman of the Year and a Junior at Betty H. Fairfax High School, Genesis Miranda and City of Phoenix Youth and Education Manager, Tim Valencia, talk about the award and program.
  • Tim Valencia - Education Manager, City of Phoenix
Category: Education   |   Keywords: honors, achievements, community, woman, phoenix, award,

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas: Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. City of Phoenix honors two students with outstanding young man and young woman of the year award. Parth Patel was outstanding young march the year. Genesis Miranda was outstanding young woman of the year. Joining me is Genesis Miranda and Tim Valencia, youth education manager for the city of Phoenix. Welcome. Let's start with you, Tim, just to give us the outline contours of the program itself.

Tim Valencia: The young man-young woman award is, this is the 27th annual, a partnership with the city of Phoenix, Rotary 100 and we want to recognize the achievements that young people, the things they have been able to achieve academically, do civic engagement, academic achievement and volunteerism.

Jose Cardenas: What is the process by which people are selected?

Tim Valencia: There's an application process that usually comes out in the fall. That application process you have to turn in an essay, talk about their achievements not only academically but volunteerism, civic engagement, how they are making change in the community. They have to have a letter of recommendation and their transcripts.

Jose Cardenas: Genesis, congratulations.

Genesis Miranda: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: You're from which district?

Genesis Miranda: District 8.

Jose Cardenas: You were selected and it's based in part on the essay that you wrote. What did you emphasize in your essay?

Genesis Miranda: Passion.

Jose Cardenas: Passion for what?

Genesis Miranda: For my generation and finding this world.

Jose Cardenas: Your contributions to the community were part of what you discussed?

Genesis Miranda: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about what you've done.

Genesis Miranda: Okay.

Jose Cardenas: Which I understand is pretty impressive.

Genesis Miranda: I don't know. Well, I'm student body president of my school, I'm a junior. Normally it's a position for seniors. I'm in NHS.

Jose Cardenas: National honor society.

Genesis Miranda: Yes. I have been through valley teen leadership to be a leader, impact now. I do international baccalaureate, and I founded a club called you have a purpose.

Jose Cardenas: You're also very accomplished academically.

Genesis Miranda: Yes. Straight A student thank God.

Jose Cardenas: a very interesting life story. You came to this country from Mexico.

Genesis Miranda: Yes. I came at the age of six. I lived with my grandparents -- I was born, grew up in a little town. I moved here at the age of six to live with my parents.

Jose Cardenas: What kinds of experiences did you have? I assume you were adjusting to the English language.

Genesis Miranda: Definitely. The only thing I knew how to say was hi and door. I don't know why. I came, it was hard adjusting to live with my parents after living with my grandparents, living in a city after living in a street-less town.

Jose Cardenas: Tim, what's the significance of the award and what do you see in the people who are nominated, how many are we talking about?

Tim Valencia: We get hundreds of applications, up to 300 across the city in different council districts. We only recognize 16. It's very difficult to really dwindle down those 300 applications. So many individuals are doing amazing things, students changing things in their community, but we have to pick the best of the best. Genesis was one of the best of the best. She was our young woman of the year. Just because the achievements, academically like I said, the work in her school and her community, within her church. It's an opportunity to recognize them not only with a stipend, a scholarship that they can use at any college of their choice. She is looking at colleges across the nation between Harvard and Stanford. We want to recognize her accomplishments because she's an outstanding young woman in the city of Phoenix.

Jose Cardenas: When does the process start?

Tim Valencia: We start in the fall this. Coming year applications will be available October of 2013. We'll do some outreach, some spots on our Phoenix 11, channel within the city of Phoenix. We'll talk to classes, be a leader groups, in classrooms about the process. Again, it's that essay, letter of recommendation from a teacher. There are important people. Mentors that make a difference. We also want to recognize them. They are part of our process and recognize them at our events.

Jose Cardenas: Genesis, how was it you came to submit your application?

Genesis Miranda: One of my sponsors in student government, Linda Reid, a teacher for the ESL students at Trevor Brown High School. She moved from Fairfax. She said you're capable of it and I want you to apply. At first I said I don't think I'm going to make it. But she told me that she believed in me and that she wanted to see me fly. To continue shining my light. So I applied. Next thing I went back for the interview process and I'm standing with tears in my eyes seeing this giant check.

Jose Cardenas: the giant check is for --

Genesis Miranda: It was $2,000.

Jose Cardenas: And so we're talking giant in terms of the size.

Genesis Miranda: A giant check.

Jose Cardenas: But it's money that's important and will enable you to pursue a college education. What are you thinking of doing?

Genesis Miranda: I want to study international relations. Nothing is set in stone and pursue more economic or business point of view with that. So international trade.

Jose Cardenas: We have some pictures. This was at the awards ceremony?

Genesis Miranda: Yes. I had tears in my eyes and they were trying to take pictures of me.

Jose Cardenas: As Tim pointed out, part of the event is intended to discuss the people who are important and instrumental in your life in getting you to where you are. Talk about that.

Genesis Miranda: Miss Reid would be someone that if I was having a hard time at school, maybe thinking that I couldn't overcome the obstacles that were being thrown at me at school or anything she was always there for me. She was there give me the boost of self-esteem. She was always there. She is the one I go to for letters of recommendation. We would sit and she would say, breathe. She was that person for me. She helped me get to where I am today and I'm very, very thankful for her. There's also Michelle Garcia. She works at a beauty salon and to me she helps me see that I also had outer beauty, not just inner beauty, which is something I struggled with. She helped me get that out and be more confident. That was her role in my life. Two very important people out of the many.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, one of the things you talked about was a very tragic experience, the suicide of someone close to you.

Genesis Miranda: Yes. My sophomore year in high school someone committed suicide. From that I realized the change that I -- trying to work with me in this world. I started to have a purpose, to develop more leaders, to show people that they too are capable of accomplishing what they want, that they have a purpose, they need to find it and I wanted to help them live it out so I started that club so we wouldn't have any more of those at school.

Jose Cardenas: Tim, how long have you been with the program?

Tim Valencia: I'm very recent. I'm the newest youth and education manager. It's been in existence for many years. 27 years I have been part of the process, reading applications and other capacities within the city of Phoenix.

Jose Cardenas: I would think Genesis has to be one of the most accomplished individuals.

Tim Valencia: She is one of the most accomplished young women we have come across.

Jose Cardenas: Demographically, ultimate recipients reflect the diversity of the city.

Tim Valencia: Yes. We look at their accomplishments and based on that it reflects our city that's well diverse locally.

Jose Cardenas: So are there special outreach efforts in the Hispanic community?

Tim Valencia: We really focus on all our school districts within the city of Phoenix. It's open for everybody. We obviously target Phoenix union high school district, our largest urban school district with schools, is the district genesis is from. By outreach we provide outreach to all students across all our districts.

Jose Cardenas: Do you find there are any special measures to encourage people particularly the minority communities to come forward and share their accomplishments?

Tim Valencia: We really find that we try to target those counselors and teachers that have established rapports with individuals. Me coming in talking about young men, young women awards. Genesis said I don't think I can do that but we target those individuals that have rapport with those students, be a leader, youth leadership, counselors. They have the connection with the young women and men here that are already established in what they want to do in their careers and education. That's who we target because they have those relationships with those students already.

Jose Cardenas: Any words of advice for your classmates or people who are maybe following in your footsteps?

Genesis Miranda: I think that they just need to know they are capable of everything. They were made what purpose. They have to live it out. Shine their light, shine their lanterns, keep trying. If you aim for the moon at least you'll fall among the stars. Something like that.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you both for joining us, and again, congratulations.

Tim Valencia: Thank you.

Teach For America

  |   Video
  • ASU ranks among top three universities in the U.S. for its number of Teach For America applications received during the 2012-2013 academic year. More Latino students at ASU applied to join Teach For America than at any other university in the nation. Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College special assistant to the Dean, Nikki Gusz, talks about the program.
  • Nikki Gusz - Special Assistant to the Dean, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
  • Matt Estrada - Teach for America Corps Member
Category: Education   |   Keywords: teach, america, ASU, Test1,

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas: TFA recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in rural and impoverished schools. First learn about a new venture by the teachers college and teach for America called change making in education being offered in the fall at ASU.

Narrator: ASU students will be working alongside teach for America corps members in their second year or alumni of teach for America where they are working on a challenge presented to them by the teach for America corps members. This is something that can be community based, school based or in the classroom, something corps members see that is happening holding back students' educational success.

Alex Miller: I'm Alex Miller, a nonprofit student. I'm a Junior. It's important as we're creating the global economy and these things that everyone has education on the forefront of their minds. Doesn't matter if you're in journalism or engineering, you need an educational component. This class offers that unique opportunity to really see education in action. To see that no matter what you're studying you can do something with education.

Jose Cardenas: Joining me to talk about this new course as well as more about teach for America is Nikki Gusz, special assistant to the Dean. Also here is Matt Estrada, a TFA corps member. Thanks for joining me this evening. I want to talk about teach for America but we just saw a video about a new course.

Nikki Gusz: We're so excited to offer this course. It's the first of its kinds in the nation asking students at ASU to think about how can they make a difference in education? Whatever their major may be we really believe someone can have a role and be a change maker in their community.

Jose Cardenas: How many students will be in the course?

Nikki Gusz: We hope for about 30 students this fall and our plan is we could offer more sections and there's actually interest in offering it to other universities potentially.

Jose Cardenas: This is change making in the educational context.

Nikki Gusz: That's correct.

Jose Cardenas: So what kinds of things are you expecting to come out of this?

Nikki Gusz: We're asking students to work with current teach for America teachers on a problem that the teacher faces in their school or community or even in their classroom. So they will actually partner with that teacher on a project. The hope is that from that project they will submit a $10,000 grant to the ASU innovation challenge to come up with a solution for the challenge in that teacher's school.

Jose Cardenas: We're not talking about people who have already been through the Teach for America program and have been selected to participate. This is open to everybody, undergraduates at ASU?

Nikki Gusz: That's correct. Any student of any major at ASU can enroll. There's an honors section and a section for all students. We have an opportunities for them to work with a current teach for America teacher in the classroom so they are learning about what teach for America might be looking like, working in a low income school and what it looks like to be in education. They may want to double major in education or maybe get a master's or doctoral degree.

Jose Cardenas: Matt, you just graduated.

Matt: Estrada: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: Your degree is not in education.

Matt Estrada: I'm a biological sciences major.

Jose Cardenas: What's the connection between you and teach for America?

Matt Estrada: I was reached out to by teach for America. I'll be teaching middle school science, using the knowledge to apply that to education. Although I don't have an education background yet, come two, three weeks out I'll be receiving training from the teachers college as well as TFA about education. I'll go through a summer course and be ready to teach in the fall.

Jose Cardenas: You're teaching in a different location.

Matt Estrada: I'll be moving to Las Vegas to teach there, then I'll be attending UNLV to do a master's in education while I teach in the classroom.

Jose Cardenas: What's the length of your commitment?

Matt Estrada: It's a two-year commitment. I may do an extra year. I'll probably stay there at least another year to make sure I have that in case I want to fall back on it.

Jose Cardenas: You're planning on getting certification as a teach center.

Matt Estrada: Yes. I want to get my state certification. We'll see how that goes for me.

Jose Cardenas: Let's talk generally about Teach for America.

Nikki Gusz: The concept to Teach for America is that we have a challenge in our country and that is that we unfortunately now see students depending on where their zip code is defines their educational future and the future of their life more broadly. So teach for America asks recent college graduates or career changers to commit

Jose Cardenas: They are people who are education majors?

Nikki Gusz: They could be. We have students from our teachers college or they could be a biological sciences teacher like Matt. It doesn't matter what their major is. It could be a graduate student. So they make the commitment to teach for two years in a low income school, but they then become lifetime leaders in education. I was actually a teach for America corps member. I came to Phoenix five years ago. I chose to come here. I wanted to be in this community, be part of this community. I did not consider education really as a field that I would want to be in long term but because of Teach for America I'm committed to being a change maker in education.

Jose Cardenas: Where did you get your training?

Nikki Gusz: I came to the Phoenix institute. We have over 700 students that will be coming to the valley here in a couple weeks. There coming from students just like Matt who just graduated college or from a different field, and they are then committing for five weeks they are going to be teaching summer school in Phoenix. At the Phoenix institute. You do a training program over the summer then go into your classrooms throughout the regions across the United States in the fall.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, Phoenix or ASU's program is one of the largest in the country.

Nikki Gusz: That's correct. This year at ASU we had the most Latina Hispanic applicants in the nation come from our university to Teach for America. Then we also were third in the nation for number of applicants over all, which is a huge accomplishment. With have had well over 300 students apply from ASU. That speaks to our culture historically. You started at a teachers college, it showcases that our students at ASU are committed to figuring out the challenges in education and the teachers college where I work we have over , 5,000 students.

Jose Cardenas: The students come from all across the country. Is that true also of the Latino applicants?

Nikki Gusz: That's correct. All across the country just like our ASU students do as well.

Jose Cardenas: Matt, is there anything in particular that got you interested? Teach for America?

Matt Estrada: For me I went to Tarbon high school for two years. I got to see education from a different light. I don't think I really appreciated what my education was until I got to ASU and got to meet people from all overt country, outside the country. Came to the realization that my education was lacking. Other people had anatomy in high school. I didn't even know of the possibility. My high school was too busy trying to catch everyone up and make sure they were meeting the bare minimum criteria they didn't have the luxury to offer anatomy. That was something I saw firsthand. My older brother dropped out of high school, so education is not something I have learned to see where some schools are lacking. I was able to overcome that but most aren't.

Jose Cardenas: How were you recruited?

Matt Estrada: Apart from the signage all over campus, they do a great job making sure their name is out there on the campus. I was reached out to personally by one of the campus recruiters. They sent me an email knowing there was this opportunity. I sat down with them. At first I wasn't 100% sure if I was going to go ahead and submit an application. I got to go to a few events, be with a few school teachers in the valley as well as in Las Vegas. I go got to shadow in the classroom, hear about the mission and fell in love with the organization, everything they are doing working with students told me I could see myself doing for at least two years. At that point I decided to submit the application, went through the extensive interviewing process and a few months later here I am.

Jose Cardenas: Talk about the shadowing experience that you had.

Matt Estrada: So after I decided I was going to turn in an application there was an opportunity to fly out to Vegas. It's one of the high need regions. There really recruiting to get people out in Vegas. Appolonia let me know about the opportunity. I decided to take it. I was there two, three days. I got to sit through a middle school, a few middle school classes, got to see teachers in action, saw the students, it's one thing to hear students are two, three years behind their reading level but when you actually see it and they are still reading at remedial levels in middle school it really sinks in. How can a student get to seventh grade and no one has stopped them and they have been reading at a fourth grade level. How have they gotten by for three years without this being addressed.

Jose Cardenas: Nikki talked about the number of students, that ASU has the largest number of applicants in the country.

Matt Estrada: I think it's something a lot of us overcame if we obviously we made it through high school successfully, but we have seen a lot of people, friends who don't necessarily make it through. So it really gives us motivation to give back. I know I have been really lucky to be helped out by scholarships, by advisors, friends and family. It's something I always feel is a great way to give back. Once you hear about teach for America it's easy to sign up for two years. Doesn't seem like much of a commitment at all.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it the process is pretty selective. Only about 10% of the applicants are chosen to be corps members.

Nikki Gusz: That's correct.

Jose Cardenas: What are you looking for in these students and what is it that you want them to be able to do once they are selected?

Nikki Gusz: I think Teach for America looks for students like Matt. Someone who is a leader in his community, someone who is committed to making a difference. Someone who really has a vision for what the future can look like. Wants to be a change maker in the community. So I think that's really why teach -- what teach for America is looking for. We have seen in the last ten years a doubling of the number of Latino Hispanic students enrolled.

Jose Cardenas: Why is that?

Nikki Gusz: I think it's ASU's commitment to access. We're committed to making sure that students from any background can have a university education and not just any university education but an extremely excellent one. So this makes us a natural partner with teach for America. We have a lot of similar institutional alignments for goals and commitments. We know there's a lot of great things happening here but I think the young people at ASU and the people that join teach for America really believe that they can make the world a better place. It's a really inspiring place to be part of.

Jose Cardenas: On that note we have to end our interview. Thank you both for joining us on the program to talk about teach for America. Good luck in Las Vegas.

Matt Estrada: Thank you.

Nikki Gusz: Thank you.