My name is Julisa Viñas, and I am a 25 year old senior, majoring in Elementary Education at UCF. Since elementary school, I remember loving mathematics so much, that my first career choice was to become a mathematics teacher. My perspective on careers changed as time went on, and in high school, I became adamant in pursuing accounting. However, in my junior year at UCF, I became extremely ill, to the point where I had to withdraw from my classes and leave everything. Little by little, my body was deteriorating due to a combination of illnesses. While bed-ridden, I started to question what I even wanted out of life. In that moment, I promised myself that if I was given a chance to continue living, I would be sure to go out and make a difference anywhere I was needed. Ultimately, I realized that my true passion remained in teaching others. After a life-saving stem-cell transplant later that year, I was not only blessed with the opportunity to pursue my passion, but to also do so while becoming one of the first student teachers here in PedsAcademy.
Through this program, I have had the honor and privilege to teach multiple incredible children, alongside their families, nurses, doctors, and other wonderful staff at Nemours. I also have had the opportunity of creating relationships with other wonderful PedsAcademy student teachers and faculty. Being able to work collaboratively and learn from each other’s experiences has helped me become even more understanding and adaptable as an educator. Learning about various ways that we can positively impact the lives of these children, is knowledge I will definitely take with me and implement anywhere I go. Personally, this experience has been even more rewarding than I could have imagined, as I have also been able to service many children and families who speak Spanish. Being able to bring education to them in their native language has helped me truly develop as an educator by having to quickly adapt each lesson to each child’s language and culture, as well as their specific medical needs. All in all, I am profoundly grateful for this one-of-a-kind experience. Thank you PedsAcademy!