"Getting into the field a year earlier makes all the difference when I am applying for jobs. Knowing that I am going to have more experience working in classrooms is what will make me a better candidate for jobs in the future."
– Cristina Fonte, Class of 2021

Cristina Fonte ’21 started teaching long before she ever set foot on the PLV Campus. “I forced my family to play ‘school’ every afternoon with me,” she explained, having corralled her brother and parents to sit at imaginary desks just so she could assign them homework when she was just a child.

As Fonte grew up, her passion for teaching only grew stronger—as did her interest in pursuing leadership roles. She became an assistant at her dance studio helping to teach classes and, in her senior year of high school, she interned at an elementary school. That experience was what convinced her to consider childhood education as a major, which ultimately led her to Pace.

Pace students who pursue a major in education get the chance to start teaching in their third year. That’s not the case at many other universities, where students start teaching in their fourth year. Fonte says that was a big reason why she ultimately chose to attend. “Getting into the field a year earlier makes all the difference when I am applying for jobs,” she told us. “Knowing that I am going to have more experience working in classrooms is what will make me a better candidate for jobs in the future.”

Continuing on that same path, Fonte joined the Future Educators Association (FEA) upon arriving at Pace, and as of this year, she was named vice president. “I wanted to take on a greater role in inspiring future educators,” Fonte explained. They hold meetings to discuss current events, invite guest speakers, and play games—all to create a tight-knit support system. “Becoming a teacher, especially in today’s world, is a very scary thing. Having this club as a support system is a great way [for us] to talk each other through our fears and overcome obstacles.”

It was that sense of camaraderie that inspired Fonte to volunteer her time for Pace 4 Kids (P4K), an all-day dance marathon benefitting children treated at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Her brother was recently a patient there, and the experience had a profound effect on her. “He had blood work and testing done, medication, surgeries, and therapy—and with this care came great expenses,” Fonte said. “My family and I know what it is like to have the burden of medical bills on our shoulders, and I wanted to do everything in my power to help other people who are in that same situation.”

She’s done that and more by not only continuing to volunteer for P4K, but also becoming its president as of this year. Fonte welcomed guest speakers and patients from the hospital who shared their stories, which she said “gave everyone a perspective as to who is directly impacted by the money we work so hard to raise.”

What’s her advice to aspiring educators? “Remember why you decided to become a teacher in the first place. There are going to be days that seem impossible to get through. Maybe you will have a parent-teacher conference that didn’t go so well, or a bad observation. Don’t let those obstacles cloud your view of what your goal is: to educate and better the lives of your students.”

See Other Profiles
More Student Stories