Nine Special Ed Students Get Ben Ziri Scholarships
Nine College of Education students have each received a scholarship to help them obtain a degree teaching students with disabilities.
Four got a $3,000 scholarship and the others got $500 from the Ben Ziri Caravan #218, a part of the International Order of the Alhambras, which raises funds to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. The scholarship, funded by an endowment established by non-profit organization and San Diego State University, is awarded to students enrolled in the moderate to severe teaching credential program.
All students are enrolled in the COE Department of Special Education master’s program. The scholarship recipients are: arepwatches Jennifer Cortez
Cortez is a $3,000 scholarship recipient. She is pursuing a masters in autism and a teaching credential in Early Childhood Special Education, and completing work to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. “I chose this field because I have a son with autism,” said Cortez, who hails from Phoenix and lives in Spring Valley. “Originally, I began learning about autism and special education to better support and advocate for my son. I decided to turn it into a career after witnessing the development and progress of my own son. I hope to have the same impact in my students lives as the specialists who worked with my son did in his.” Cortez concluded by saying she plans to use the funds on tuition and fees. Becky Kremer
Kremer is also pursuing a master’s degree in autism and received a bachelor’s in psychology from SDSU last year. The Orange County native and North Park resident also received $3000, which she plans to use on tuition, parking and books. “I ve experienced applied behavior analysis to be an extremely effective therapy for individuals with autism and I m passionate about being able to reach and treat as many individuals as I can,” said Kremer, who would like to work with transition-age youth with autism. “I know that this population can achieve success and be a part of the community if taught with care, compassion, and evidence-based strategies.” Brittney Ventenilla
Ventenilla is from Los Angeles and lives in central San Diego. She is a graduate student pursuing a masters in special education with an emphasis on autism. Currently, Ventenilla is an assistant clinical supervisor at an agency providing behavior analysis services for children with autism. “My short term goal is to become a clinical supervisor and a long term goal of is to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and help improve services by investigating methods to effectively translate research into practice and to further individualize autism treatment,” said Cortez who also received $3000 and plans to use her money to pay for tuition next year. Brittany Broas
Born and raised in San Diego, Broas is currently enrolled in the master’s program with an emphasis in autism. She is also pursuing her Clear Credential and Transition Specialist Certificate. The $3,000 scholarship recipient said she will use her money on tuition and to buy extra supplies for her classroom. “My future goals consist of passing my board exam and becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with hopes to support and train teachers in my school district on how to effectively work with students with autism,” Broas said. “My main focus is for students to be able to advocate for themselves, gain an understanding on what they want to do in the future, and be able to identify their strengths.” Matthew Hirbour
Originally from Corona, California, Hirbour lives in the Normal Heights community of San Diego and is working towards a teaching credential in special education. He said he chose this career path because these students “deserve to learn in an environment that supports their individualistic learning styles.” Hirbour received $500 and I will use the money to help pay off some student loan debt. He will be teaching students with learning disabilities in Bangkok, Thailand, this summer. Jocelyn Kadas
Kadas is a Point Loma High School graduate who grew up in Missouri. She is a first year COE student in the moderate to severe teaching credential program. She has two, single-subject teaching credentials in English and history, as well as a master’s degree in education. Kadas’ future career goals include earning an additional teaching credential and earning a doctorate in special education. “I enjoy working with students with intellectual disabilities because I love to see the joy I bring to the students’ lives and see the improvement I am able to make in their academic and daily living skills,” said Kadas, who plans to use her $500 award to buy books and supplies. Alex Moreno
A native of Mexico and a Chula Vista resident, Moreno is a grad student in the credential program to become a special education teacher. The $500 scholarship recipient would like to work with students of different ages and with moderate to severe disabilities in low-income communities. “I want to work with children with disabilities because I feel that it is my calling in life,” said Moreno who spent his scholarship money on classroom materials. “I personally feel that working with a population of students who are often misunderstood, marginalized, and not expected to perform or achieve is what motivates me to become the best educator I can possibly be.” Marianna Rochin
Rochin has completed the coursework for her credential to be able to teach children with moderate to severe disabilities. The San Diego native and Chula Vista resident also received $500 which he hopes to use for supplies once she lands a job. “I want to work with students with disabilities mainly because I want to make a difference in their lives,” said Rochin, who indicated she will be applying for the autism master’s program in the future. “I want to make a difference in their lives and I feel that the students that I’ve had the pleasure of working with have made more of a difference in my life, and I just absolutely love seeing my students grow and succeed.” Sami Lauf
Lauf is working on her education specialist credential which will allow her to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities. The North Dakota native and San Diego Resident also got $500 which she will use on tuition. “I enjoy the field because of the effect it has on my own personal life,” said Lauf, who teaches at Stein Education Center. “Life is all about progress and moving forward despite the challenges you may face and I am lucky enough to be inspired every day.”