Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve. During my time at CBU, one could see this phrase all around campus, but I did not truly comprehend the meaning of this phrase until I was trying to discern what to do with my life. Mass became a time for me to meditate on God’s plans for my life, and I reflected on many different options. Should I follow in my father’s foot steps and become a prosthetist, should I continue to do research, or should I look into some other medical programs, or should I become a teacher? During my reflections, I would construct a mental pro and con list for each option. Every time I thought about teaching, I felt a sense of calm and peace. When I thought about my other options, I could feel that calmness and peace leaving me and stress replacing them. The more I thought about teaching, the more it felt it was the right thing to do.
Come to think on it, I have been teaching since I was a freshman in high school. I earned my Black belt in Pa Sa Ryu when I was in the 9th grade. To be a good black belt, one must not only learn and perfect different techniques in katas and sparring, but one must be able to pass on the knowledge to future students. Master Rhea’s greatest hope were for his students to one day surpass him in his skill and ability. During my time at the headquarters, I gained the reputation of pushing others hard, but at the same time being kind and willing to work with students to be their best.
While I was at CBU, I was an active member and a President of the Student Affiliate of the American Chemistry Society (SAACS,) with Dr. Condren as our sponsor. Every year, we would visit schools in the area, where we performed demos and workshops for the students. We would show a flame test, make slimes, and show many other activities to the students. I always loved to see the smiles and amazement on their faces. Through SAACS, I met many chemistry/science teachers in the area, and I got to see the different side of education careers.
Based on my own experience in martial arts and my time at CBU, I eventually decided to follow what I believe was a sign from God to give teaching a chance. I applied to many high school in the Memphis area and after many offers, I decided to join the faculty at St. Agnes Academy. I have not regretted my decision to teach. The past four years as a teacher have been amazing. I love educating the young minds at SAA because they are energetic, fun, and willing to learn. Working at a school that has similar tradition and values as the Christian Brothers has been a blessing. Not only do I enjoy teaching the girls at the Academy, but I love getting to know them and their dreams for the future. The Class of 2014 will be the first class I taught to graduate from SAA. It will be sad day when I see them go, but at the same time, I will be excited to see what they will do in the future. I am honored to have the opportunity to help shape their future.
My teaching and testing style were shaped by my time at CBU and my martial art experience. My philosophy on always being accessible to my students comes from Dr. Merat. I will always remember Dr. Merat giving us his home number and telling us if we ever need help out side of class, we could always call his number during certain hours in the evening. Just knowing I could get help anytime was a major comfort. Granted, I don’t give my numbers to the girls to get help after school, but I do encourage them to meet with me before, during and after school. When I teach, I try to pattern myself after Dr. Ogilvie and Dr. Burke. I am tough and expect much from my students, but at the same time, I make sure I smile and encourage the girls to improve and to make them know I care. My girls can thank Dr. Busler for my testing style. While I was enrolled in his courses, I hated his test format (of assigning 50 points to old material and 100 points to current material). Now, however, I have come to value what he was trying to teach us. You CAN’T FORGET anything in chemistry. These are among the most influential, but there are so many other CBU teachers who influenced how I teach my students.
Not only did I found the place I should be, I am married to the love of my life, Christina Brown Tran, class of 06. Without her support, I could have made a totally different career decision, and I am grateful for her influence. Without my wonderful education at CBU, I know I would not be the same person I am today.