A graduate student juggled multiple responsibilities as a student, a schoolteacher, and a mother to earn a degree that will allow her to expand her scope in her current job.

Yessenie Bermejo is a mother of three who was born in Mexico. She has been translating for her family since she was a child. Now with an M.S.Ed. in childhood bilingual education, she plans to work with bilingual students in their native language.

BC: When did you decide you wanted to be an educator?

YB: Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I remember my mother buying me a chalkboard and I would play teacher with my little sister. I would write the alphabet and math problems and teach my sister. Now, I am focused on giving more bilingual students the opportunity to read, write, and do math in their native language and English.

BC: Why did you choose bilingual education?

YB: My family and I are from Mexico. When I was younger, I would always translate for my parents wherever we went. But, as a teacher and a mother myself, I think it is most important teach children to not forget their native language.

I have been working in the dual-language classroom setting where students are taught in English and Spanish. I have been teaching the English portion in the dual-language first- and second-grade classes.

BC: Why Brooklyn College?

YB: My little brother had a kindergarten teacher who loved to celebrate every holiday of each month. She inspired me to be a teacher as well because she made everything look so fun. When I asked her about becoming a teacher, she told me to go to Brooklyn College because that’s where she had graduated from. I didn’t think twice, and I do not regret it. Brooklyn College also gave me the opportunity to work in the Early Childhood Center, where I gained more knowledge and experience working with children.

BC: What has it been like juggling college and motherhood?

YB: I was a young mom at the age of 18, which was right at the beginning of my college experience. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to finish school, but I was able to fix my schedule in a way that I had time for school, work, and my child.

BC: What has shaped your outlook as a teacher while you were here?

YB: The experience I gained while working in the Early Childhood Center will always stick with me. It was a dream being able to work with infants, toddlers, and older children. I learned how to adapt different activities for different age groups. For example, having children learn to write their letters on the table with shaving cream is not such a bad idea for toddlers. Working at the center proved to me that I needed to be a teacher.

BC: What do you do to relax?

YB: I like to go to the gym in the morning and listen to music as I work out. I like going in the morning because it’s a time for me to just relax and think about what needs to be done during the day. Going to the gym makes me start my day stress free and energized.

BC: You are already teaching. What’s next for you?

YB: I want to be able to teach Spanish in the dual-language classroom setting because right now I can teach only in English because I do not have the degree or license in that field. I have a great mentor at my school who has been very supportive in my education, and she has motivated me to pursue my degree in bilingual education. Once I graduate, I hope to get a position in my school as the Spanish teacher of a dual-language class. In the future, I hope to be a dual-language coach or a supervisor.

BC: If you had the opportunity, what would you tell next year’s graduating class?

YB: May your goals be like the horizon, never ending.