When the childhood home of Santiago Galvis ’22 fell apart in Hurricane Sandy, his teachers were there to help him pick up the pieces. Wanting to follow in their footsteps, he earned his bachelor’s in Spanish teacher (7-12), and is now pursuing a childhood education teacher (1-6), bilingual extension master’s degree. As a first-generation Colombian-American and a Spanish teacher who works at the Staten Island school where it all started, Galvis draws upon his experience to support students however he can.

We sat down with Galvis to hear his story.

What inspired you to pursue an education degree?

I attended a K-12 public school, Michael J. Petrides School, where I thankfully teach now. During high school, I was a part of a peer teaching class that involved high school students to help the elementary school teachers in their classrooms. This enlightened me that I wanted to connect my roots with teaching.

What are the skills you developed during your time at Brooklyn College?

Brooklyn College gave me the opportunity to explore my pedagogical ideologies. I’m a new teacher who is learning to be the best educator that I can be. During my undergrad and now in graduate school, my professors have helped me understand the importance of genuinely caring for my students and have guided me on my teaching journey.

How have you grown as a person or student in the last few years?

I’ve grown to appreciate education much more. Doing a graduate program while teaching more than 100 students is a tough task, but furthering your education is so important. Education helps people learn how to best be part of our society. For this reason, I recommend college to all of my students.

Can you tell us about a time when it was hard to push through and who helped you get over the hump?

My family and I are survivors of Hurricane Sandy. We lived in a one-floor house right by the beach. We chose to stay, and because of this decision, our lives were almost taken. The amount of support that was provided by my community was tremendous and eye-opening for me. My school was there for me in so many ways. This was a reason why I wanted to give back to my community.

What’s most important to you and why?

It’s important for me to educate people on how to be more compassionate and inclusive. In a world where we are coexisting, it’s crucial for everyone to be respectful. I am grateful that Brooklyn College teaches this to its students.

Complete the sentence: Brooklyn College’s biggest strength is …

Its diversity. Throughout my pedagogical research, I’ve decided that diversity and exploring different perspectives is what can best teach people, especially teachers, to be more compassionate and understanding. I feel that this is best gained in a diverse community, and for that, I am thankful for Brooklyn College.

What are your goals for after you finish your master’s program?

After earning my undergraduate degree, I was able to begin my journey as an official teacher. When I finish graduate school, my goals are to implement my findings from research projects, and overall create a classroom environment where my students are happy to be in and are happy to learn. I want to be able to give back to my community by creating an equitable class, and showing students that I genuinely care about them.