NYU Steinhardt News

Why Is Education Important? A Steinhardt Graduate Student Answers.

Maritza Vazquez (MA ’18) is one of about 50 Steinhardt students currently taking part in our one-year Embedded Master of Arts in Teaching (EMAT) Secondary Education program. Our EMAT residents are learning from professors and peers online while gaining hands-on experience embedded in classrooms around the country. We spoke with Maritza to learn more about what motivated her to teach and why she believes education is important.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I wanted to make a difference in students’ lives. I believe that all children should have equal education opportunities no matter their social economic status or race. I enjoy being part of the learning experience and helping students understand that with knowledge comes power. I want to inspire others to reach their fullest potential and to learn from them in the process. 

What subject area do you specialize in and why?

I chose English because growing up, I had a lot of difficulty understanding how to read a text and write a good essay. As an undergraduate, I came across a wonderful professor who sparked a fire within me for literature, and she challenged me to be better. I want to not only pass on my love for literature, but also help students develop their language skills. 

Why do you believe education is important?

As Nelson Mandela says, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." I believe that knowledge creates a fair democracy and allows us to be participants in decisions affecting our daily lives. Education is an essential precursor to peace, tolerance, and a healthy civil society. Education encourages transparency, good governance, and stability, and helps fight against graft and corruption. Education is not just about lessons in textbooks. It is about the lessons of life. 

What drew you to the EMAT program, and what is your experience in the program so far?

I was attracted to the opportunity to be able to teach in a low-income classroom with students who lack the adequate resources to succeed. I was also excited to gain a full year of experience studying under a skilled mentor teacher. So far, working with these students and teaching them something new every day has been one of the most satisfactory feelings I have ever had.

How do you hope to use the EMAT to further your career goals?  

My career goals are to continue working with middle or high school students, and the EMAT program is giving me all the experience I need in order to be a successful teacher. My classroom is very diverse, preparing me to work with all types of learners and teaching me how to be a more open-minded individual.