Latinx Initiative for Future Teachers

UCSC’s Latinx Teacher Initiative for Future Teachers (LIFT) Project,  provides selected MA/C Latinx students with  financial support, mentorship, and enrichment events. In twelve months, LIFT Scholars earn both a Master of Arts in Education and a California preliminary teaching credential. LIFT Scholars receive a $2000 scholarship, reimbursement for some of the tests required to apply to a credential program, as well as a mentor, a local teacher of color, who provides guidance and support in navigating both graduate school and first year teaching as a person of color in predominantly white institutions. Research is clear that there are a host of positive outcomes for students of color who have had at least one teacher of color.

LIFT, funded by a US Department of Education Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) grant, is central to the MA/Credential Program’s efforts to address existing racial and ethnic disparities between teachers in California and the students that they serve. This project was also created as a response to the ongoing teacher shortage in California, most severe in communities serving some of California’s highest need students.

Donations to the LIFT Program may be made here. Choose “Other Designation” and write in “Education Department LIFT Program.”

Meet the first cohort of LIFT Scholars! (2021-2022)


my-project-2-1.jpgAndres Garza, Social Sciences LIFT Scholar Andres Garza chose to become a teacher because he feels he can make a difference. He wants to ensure that he provides his students with academic content that is relevant to their lives. He said, "I feel a sense of duty to help students rise to expectations, and reach their own goals."
my-project-3.jpgAndrew Garcia, Math LIFT Scholar Andrew Garcia is working on a credential to teach mathematics. Andrew chose this pathway to provide the kind of learning experience that he wished he had had in school. Andrew also hopes to "reduce the imposter syndrome some students feel when thinking about higher education and at the very least get students to think about higher education."
my-project-1.jpgBre Aguilar, Social Sciences LIFT Scholar Bre Aguilar chose to become a teacher "to work with undocumented, mixed-status, queer, transgender, disabled, low-income, BIPOC youth, and families. My biggest goal as an educator is to be a resource to folks and build a community with them, as well as create a mutual space that challenges the hierarchical student-to-teacher relationship...I hope to create a classroom that is a safe space for people‚ identities and experiences. A place where students can unapologetically be themselves. As well as work towards making education accessible, and that starts by providing holistic support to students."
my-project-4-1.jpgChristopher Jimenez, Math LIFT Scholar Christopher Jimenez hopes to make a difference for students in underserved, low-income communities. His desire to be an advocate for students is what led him to choose a career in teaching. He knows the value of Latinx teachers serving as role models to motivate students from minoritized groups. His hope is to empower his future students to achieve their dreams. "I plan to create an equitable classroom where all students are respected and feel included."
my-project-5.jpgEduardo (Lalo) Serrano, Social Sciences LIFT Scholar Eduardo (Lalo) Serrano chose teaching because he was inspired by amazing teachers who helped change the course of his own life. He is driven by the desire to give back to his community and inspire his own students, just as he was inspired! "I hope to become a role model for the next generation and see teaching as an avenue to do so. I'm also aware of the systemic problems which plague our society and see teaching as a way to encourage students to think about these issues and to inspire change."
my-project-6.jpgKevin Olivera, English LIFT Scholar Kevin Olivera is working on a teaching credential in English. Kevin chose to enter the teaching profession because he believes that meaningful education can enrich one's life. Kevin sums this up by saying, "I want to end up making a difference in young people's lives by supporting them in developing academic, creative, and life skills."
my-project-7.jpgLissette Martinez-Lopez, Multiple Subjects LIFT Scholar Lissette Martinez Lopez is a multiple subjects teacher candidate. Lissette chose to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a teacher because "It's a profession that I enjoy and it truly makes me happy seeing the individual learning growth of students." She hopes to inspire her students and to help them grow and expand their bilingual abilities.
my-project-8-1.jpgLizbeth Garcia, Multiple Subjects LIFT Scholar Lizbeth Garcia is a multiple subjects teacher candidate. Lizbeth chose to go into teaching because of her passion to help others and to give back to her community. She also finds that teaching is enjoyable and highly rewarding. "I hope to offer support to all students and make them feel like I am available for needs they may have. I want students to feel comfortable to ask me questions and know that I will offer my support to the best of my ability."
my-project-9.jpgMelissa Varvaro, English LIFT Scholar Melissa Varvaro is passionate about English and professional writing. Early in Melissa's undergraduate education at UCLA, she became increasingly aware of the educational disparities for young children from historically disenfranchised groups. Melissa has "chosen to dedicate my life and career to improving the education for groups unfairly marginalized by a class-based educational system. Teaching writing will allow me to teach language and rhetoric, the most foundational tools to initiate wider equitable change." Her hope is that her students will leave her classroom believing in themselves as future readers and writers. "I hope to bring change for urban communities and provide adolescent learners with an education that they are justly worthy of.
my-project-10.jpgPablo Gomez-Echegaray, Math LIFT Scholar Pablo Gomez-Echegaray is working on his credential to teach mathematics. He chose a career in teaching because he wants to use his position as a mathematics teacher to "elevate as many students as possible because they deserve to dream."

my-project-11.jpgSara Benavidez, Science

LIFT Scholar Sara Benavidez is obtaining a credential in Earth science. Sara wants to make learning about Earth science like a fun puzzle for students to solve. "I hope I can also be a voice for earth science, and educate my students to be responsible citizens who will make good decisions for our planet."