Appreciation Post: Mentoring Educators

Countdown to Graduation: 8 Days

So I say thank you for the music / For giving it to me”

Here goes two very grand gesture style “Thank You” that I dedicate to two professors who have made a tremendous impact in my academic career during my time at UCI as today is my last day of classes as an Undergrad (bless for no Friday classes).


Dearest Dr. Castellanos,

When you first met me during my second year of college, I was a lost soul when it came to what I really wanted to do with my major or what I was going to pursue. The only thing I had was my passion to make a difference in the world, and you saw all of that. You took me under your wing from that moment on and showed me potential that I never knew I had. I was confused for a long time and you didn’t pressure me to put myself into anything I wasn’t certain of doing. Instead, you allowed me to peek into the doors and windows – even ceiling windows – that you opened for me. You allowed me to see opportunities that I didn’t know I could even have.

During the time I started research with you, I was generally confused. I wasn’t sure what to do or what I was going to tackle or how to handle. I had basic research knowledge from two Research Methods classes I took in the past quarters, but you expanded my horizon of knowledge and learned how do dedicate time to both qualitative and quantitative data. I learned logistics of research I didn’t know existed and resources I didn’t realize would make my life easier as a researcher.

At the same time, you showed me that Grad School wasn’t impossible. I’ve always had my eyes set out to pursuing a higher degree, but I didn’t actually know how I would make it possible or where I would even get started on making it happen, but you brought it to the whole team and showed us that despite there being one goal of pursuing a Masters or PhD, there are multiple ways to get there and it isn’t impossible; that no matter the circumstances, we can make it happen.

Thank you for sharing your passion with me, with the whole lab team, and even with all your previous mentees. You have served as one of my biggest inspirations and I am grateful to have you be a part of my life and to be able to call you my mentor.


Dearest JJ,

To say you’re a different kind of teacher or professor is an understatement for who you are and what you do. In the past three quarters that I have spent with you, I have learned what it means to truly be an educator and looking out for the wellbeing of the students you serve rather than your own intentions. In your very own way, I have been taught the value of education in an environment that is comfortable and fun.

Being in your TLC class was the first introduction to you. Each and every week we met, you showed us just how enthusiastic, fun, and passionate you are about being a different kind of educator and learning doesn’t just have one way of being carried out and that it is to each their own. I witnessed a new kind of environment and a different kind of focus on an individual from what we learned while we were partaking in the TLC program together. There was a lot of laughter and comfortability in our small little family we had going in the TLC program and I appreciated having that kind of environment and it was the place I looked forward to going to every week.

Many people told me Ethics would be a fun class or that I’d really enjoy taking Ethics with you. I have to admit… everyone that told me such was right. You showed us that it doesn’t take having to wear a suit and tie to show that you can be a great educator. Whether you dressed as John Stuart Mill or Philosoraptor/Aristotle or simply decked out in your Cubs gear, it never took away from the learning experience. In fact, it enhanced it more because not a day went by in class where we had a boring moment. In every class, there was a new learning experience and in every class we put up with a new challenge.

Thank you for being so enthusiastic 101% of the time and for always ensuring that your students have a positive experience. While I won’t be a teacher one day, I hope that I continue to carry everything I learned from you in my future careers, but I also hope that I can share your enthusiasm no matter where it is I end up.

With all my love,



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