The Universal Mentor
Alyssa Ortega ’20 is a Childhood Education major on the PLV Campus who is deeply passionate about teaching—both as an educator, and a peer. There’s one lesson in particular, however, that really changed her perspective.
Alyssa Ortega ’20 is a Childhood Education major and enthusiastic teacher-to-be on the PLV Campus. She lent her talents to Bedford Road School just last year as a student teacher, dedicating her time outside of the Pace classroom to instruct in another classroom. And that’s in addition to her duties as the Student Director of Programming for the Student Government Association, as well as her membership to the Black Student Union and Pace FIRE. Ortega juggles an incredible amount of responsibilities, and yet, she still found time to maintain a 3.71 GPA.
So what drew this high achiever to Pace? “In all honesty, it was mostly to follow what my friends were doing,” she explained. “The reason I stayed was the feeling of actually coming into my own and forming relationships with those who later became my family.” It was that sense of comradery that started to become obvious in every aspect of the University the more time went on. “There are a number of clubs and organizations [available] where one can feel at home and make connections with others,” she told us.
With dedicated faculty and strong academic program on her side, Ortega felt fully prepared when she started working as a student teacher at Bedford Road School. However, she quickly discovered that there was one aspect of teaching she couldn’t have anticipated. “Children say the most unexpected and insightful things at the most random times,” Ortega told us. It must make the job well worthwhile!
One student in particular—Jonn, a second grader who wanted to be called Batman—made a big impact on her. “I had been working with him one-on-one for a couple of weeks, and he was slowly improving,” Ortega explained. One day, he came into class and pulled her aside to show off his achievement: a 91% on his math test. “It was the highest score he had ever gotten,” she told us. While Batman’s success was thanks, in part, to her dedication, Ortega was still humbled by the experience. “My students teach me, and I teach them.”
She’s mentored not only second graders, but her peers at Pace as well. Ortega focuses her efforts on assisting “[anyone] seeking a little bit of guidance,” particularly first-year students. When running for the SGA position, she opened up about her own experiences during her first year at Pace. “My freshman year was nothing but staying in my dorm and running back home every other weekend. Without someone [encouraging] me to come with them to an event, I would still be closed-off on campus.” That’s why it’s so important to her to give back.
We’re so excited to hear about Ortega’s next teaching position, and all the wonderful, interesting, and surprising experiences she’s bound to have.
What's your Pace Path? Do you or someone you know have an interesting Pace story? We want to hear from you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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