EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A UTEP graduate is making a positive change in students’ lives. More so those students who shy away from public speaking. 

While being a student herself, UTEP has given her the opportunity to be a high school teacher.

“Even if you enter as a freshman having no clue on what you wanted to study, UTEP guides you through on where you’re supposed to be.” Contreras said.

Born in Las Cruces, but raised in El Paso, Lynette Contreras started her fall semester at UTEP in 2018 and with the university having a large Hispanic population, she knew she wanted to pursue her degree in public health and minor in education.

“It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college where I encountered the, it was an organization about public health students, then my junior year of college, I started working at the college of education,” Contreras said.

During her time in the teacher education program, Contreras was in charge of internships and student teaching. Leading her to land her first real job as a teacher at Eastwood High School, for the past couple of months.  

“As a work study for the teacher Education program actually where they are in charge of doing the internships, the student teaching, the observation hours, and that really awaken me. Something about teaching, you know what I’m studying, so if I wanted to do that, they gave me the opportunity to pursue her minor in education.”  

With her teaching skills and ability to relate to her students, Contreras remembers being afraid of public speaking but with the help of professors, she overcame her fear.

“He always told us, never look at the eyes, look at the top of the head, you will be less intimidated and I was like okay sounds good, you know. But then it’s very different, when yo put everything you learn in the classroom,”

Adding that, now she can relate to some of her students in the class.

“Going back to the sensitive topics, about Sex Ed. Most of my students are really, maybe embarrassed or afraid to ask those kinds of questions,” 

Helping those students who are afraid to raise their hand in class. 

At most, there were one or two kids who raised their hands. So my mentor teacher and I were like, “that’s not possible, students at this age have so many questions.”

Getting the whole idea in making an anonymous question box. 

“You never know what each kid is going through, so being that source of knowledge and guidance or even that teacher who they look up to, but I get a lot where students come to me and ask questions, especially for those topics are not covered usually in your math class, science class, in your English class.”

Adding that if it weren’t for UTEP giving her the opportunity to work while learning, she wouldn’t be the teacher she is today to her students.

The first-generation college student tells KTSM, living in a border city, it has inspired her to go for her Master’s degree in Special Ed or Bilingual Education to help students learn fluently.

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