Knowing where my identity is anchored in the midst of teaching has been a freeing experience.”

Justine’s Story

Native to a small coastal town in California, Justine has been interested in marine science virtually her entire life. Growing up, she spent a great deal of time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a pastime which fueled her decision to major in aquatics biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). During her freshman year, Justine began working at the Research Experience and Education Facility (REEF), a touch tank education facility. In this position, she performed husbandry duties and taught children about the local marine ecosystem. She later interned at Let’s Explore Applied Physical Science (LEAPS) as an after-school science teacher. Additionally, Justine was selected to work with academically gifted and talented youth via Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. These experiences with students sparked her desire to teach, instead of pursuing a career in research.

Following graduation, Justine worked as a naturalist at Camp SEA Lab. Committed to teaching, she enrolled in UCSB’s teacher education program, where she wrote a master’s thesis that focused on relationships between students and teachers, and how those relationships affect student learning.

During an ecology fish bowl review session, Justine got the opportunity to see her students regulate themselves, while reviewing concepts with one another. “It was encouraging to see the students work together in their teams, and be respectful of the other teams, without me needing to step in.” Seeing them grow—both academically and socially—has been one of her fondest teaching experiences to date.

In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, including kayaking and hiking, as well as reading and listening to music.