FSW sophomore Eglindina Quintana is anxious to complete her teaching degree so she can give back to students in her hometown of Immokalee.
Sophomore Eglindina Quintana is eager to finish her elementary education degree at Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) so she can give back to her hometown of Immokalee. With a bachelor's degree in elementary education, she'll be able to work as a fully-certified teacher in one of the Collier County School District's five Immokalee elementary schools. She hopes that her perspective will help connect with students.
"I want to return to Immokalee because I love it," she says.
Eglindina comes from a single parent home—her father passed away after the family arrived in Southwest Florida from Mexico—and her mother has been supporting the five of them by working in the fields. Her mother was forced to quit school in the sixth grade because students in Mexico are required to pay to attend. The family came to the United States to ensure that Eglindina and her siblings had the opportunity to earn an education. Eglindina's younger brother Manuel, who also aspires to be a teacher, recently started the same education program at FSW.
Besides handling a full course load, Eglindina works with kindergarten students at The Children's Learning Center at FSW, as well as at a work-study job in FSW's Financial Aid department. She maintains a 3.1 GPA and was the only senior from her graduating class at Immokalee High School who earned six college scholarships. She says that getting into college wasn't easy. Having to contend with a learning disability, it took her multiple attempts to pass the state exam to receive a high school diploma. Eglindina was apprehensive about the college process and thought higher education was unobtainable.
"My speech teacher convinced me that college was for me," she says. "Once I passed the FCAT exam, I cried because I knew I had earned my high school diploma and I could go to college."
As a college student, Eglindina's perspective has shifted and she knows that through hard work, she can achieve anything. Not only will she be the first in her family to receive a four-year college degree, but that degree will open doors she never expected. Working as an elementary teacher is just the beginning of her plans for the future. She wants to pursue a master's degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and eventually work as a school principal.
Having been a tutor at Pinecrest Elementary since her freshman year of high school, Eglindina has the hands-on experience many teachers-in-training lack. Pinecrest is where many of Immokalee's migrant children go to school and Eglindina says it's important that new generations of students see teachers who share their background and who have also overcome their disadvantages. If given the opportunity, she would love to work there after graduation.
"The students will be able to see that their teacher was born and raised in Immokalee, and was able to go to college," she says. "I know how children feel when their parents work in the fields, get home late or don't understand English."
Education majors like Eglindina are being sought out by schools all over the state. These schools continually report shortages of qualified teacher applicants and FSW's mission is to prepare outstanding graduates to fill that need. Not unlike other professionals working in nursing, accounting, or engineering, teachers must prepare for and pass rigorous examinations to earn a license.
"Florida has steadily increased the standards on these examinations and pass rates have declined significantly statewide," says Dr. Larry Miller, dean of the FSW School of Education. "Eglindina has learned that—through hard work—she can pass any test the state puts between her and her dream of becoming a teacher. It takes a special person to be a great teacher. She's a role model for her younger brother and those who want to become teachers."
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