Angalina Maldonado ’23 found her passion for special education working in the Garden Grove School District as an instructional aide. After first working with middle school special education students, she transferred to an elementary classroom five years ago. She began assisting students with moderate to severe support needs such as autism and Down syndrome. Everything clicked.
“That’s where I fell in love,” she says. “It’s a challenging job, but I love being around the kids and knowing that I’m making their day special just by walking in the room.”
Maldonado’s supervisors in Garden Grove saw her love for the students and encouraged her to return to school to earn a teaching credential. Maldonado said that Chapman University wasn’t on her list of potential schools until she learned about the C-TAG for Future Educators program from the counseling staff at Santa Ana College’s Center for Teacher Education.
C-TAG for Future Educators
Maldonado is part of first cohort of C-TAG for Future Educators students to join Chapman’s Integrated Educational Studies bachelor’s degree program. Developed within Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies, the C-TAG, or Chapman Transfer Admission Guarantee, program was specially designed for future elementary and special education teachers from Santiago Canyon College or Santa Ana College. Completion of the C-TAG pathway offers aspiring elementary and special education teachers transferring from the two-year colleges guaranteed admission into the IES degree program.
To celebrate the launch of the C-TAG partnerships with Santiago and Santa Ana colleges, Chapman University offered 10 full tuition scholarships for students entering as part of the inaugural C-TAG cohort in fall 2021.
Attallah College Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and External Affairs Michelle Samura, Ph.D., said IES faculty members were blown away by the quality of applicants who applied.
“Our first set of C-TAG applicants was incredibly impressive, and we wanted to welcome all of them to Chapman,” said Samura. “Thanks to the support of Chapman’s senior leadership, we were able to offer full tuition scholarships to all 13 C-TAG transfer students this year.”
Maldonado said that earning the C-TAG scholarship, and not needing to take out student loans, was a big relief.
“That threw everything else out of the water,” she said. “Then the IES program faculty and staff were so welcoming and warm. I knew, that’s where I’m going.”
Fellow C-TAG students Olivia Fonseca ’23 and Aidee Guerrero ’23 also found the C-TAG program a good fit for their career goals.
Growing up near the university’s Orange campus, Fonseca said it has always been her dream to attend Chapman, even as a little girl. Learning about the IES program through the Santiago Canyon College’s Pathways to Teaching Program furthered her desire to attend Chapman.
“The IES program seemed like a such a good way to come one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a middle school teacher,” said Fonseca. “So far, I am happy to say that in my IES classes, I have been learning how to appreciate other people’s differences, and I am excited to learn more about the benefits of valuing and understanding diversity in the people around me.”
Guerrero, who works part-time as a teacher assistant at Olive Crest Academy in Orange, said the size of the IES program particularly appealed to her. With small class sizes, the Chapman students are able to build relationships with one another and their professors.
In just a few weeks, Guerrero was part a close-knit community, she said.
“We’re checking in with each other and helping each other out,” she added. “I also feel like the professors genuinely care about you, and if you have any questions, they’re available.”
Focused on the Future
IES program coordinator Jillian Wood, Ph.D., is pleased to see the first C-TAG cohort thriving on campus.
“Their diverse perspectives and experiences will enhance the entire Chapman community,” she said. “It is a privilege to be part of these students’ journeys toward a career in education.”
As a little girl, Maldonado remembers visiting Chapman when her dance studio held performances in the theatre. She never dreamed she’d be back on campus years later as an adult college student.
Although she’s incredibly busy with a part-time job and as a full-time mom and college student, she said setting a good example for her children and other aspiring teachers keeps her motivated.
“That’s why I wanted to do this program,” she said, “and to prove to everybody that it’s never too late. You can follow your dreams.”