Daniel Chavez, ’17 is teaching more than algebra at Shorecrest High School in the Shoreline School District north of Seattle. A Mexican-American who spent his childhood in both the United States and Mexico, Chavez sees himself as a role model for his class of mostly white students and for students of color who might identify with him.
“By being a teacher and showing my face every day, it challenges the status quo,” Chavez says. “I wonder how many of my students here have a teacher whose parents come from Mexico. It’s important that all students see that we can make it.”
Born in Los Angeles, Chavez spent 12 years in the U.S. before his parents moved the family back to Mexico during Chavez’s middle- and high-school years. He returned to attend Skagit Valley College for two years and completed his bachelor’s degree in math at Western Washington University in 2015.
A Master in Teaching (MIT) from Seattle U’s College of Education gave Chavez the chance to connect his talent for math with a career passion that had emerged through roles as a tutor, teaching assistant and after-school activities coordinator. “In the classroom I felt I belonged,” he says.
Chavez appreciated the MIT program’s “social justice approach to teaching.” He also valued the close bond among classmates in his cohort. What stood apart was the “face to face” contact with professors. “The professors really modeled what it was to be a good teacher,” he says.
To help him attend Seattle U, Chavez received the Martinez Foundation Fellowship for students of color pursuing teaching degrees. The first in his family to attend college, he has his sights set on a doctorate degree and wants to be a role model for students of color to pursue higher education.
“As a child of immigrant parents, I want to get as much education as I can because my parents were not able to,” he says. “I want to inspire students who might identify with me reach their goals.”