School of Education equipped her to excel and to inspire others.
In high school, Erin Parra ’17 wanted to be a nurse. Her career goal suddenly shifted, however, the day she went to donate blood. “As soon as I saw my blood and the blood from the person next me—I fainted,” she says. “I knew I still wanted to serve people, but decided to save lives in another fashion and not in a medical setting.”
After some soul-searching, Parra realized an academic environment was her “happy place,” and that educators and academic counselors had always been the people who most inspired her. So she set a course for a career in education.
“I wanted to be a school counselor in a K-12 setting,” says Parra, who earned a bachelor’s in Psychology from Cal State San Bernardino before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Redlands School of Education. She enrolled in the Master’s in School Counseling program because she felt it would help her become “the educator I wanted to be.”
Her choice was affirmed in myriad ways, from the opportunity to substitute teach at Colton Joint Unified School District to the camaraderie of Redlands’ small classroom sizes and inspirational instruction from professors such as Jeanie Lohr, Nerni Miller and Kelly Guillen.
“Professor Lohr modeled how to lead and how to listen. Professor Miller challenged us to examine current educational systems. Professor Guillen taught us to creatively make our own lesson plan and then practice delivering that lesson to our colleagues, ” Parra says. “As a whole, the School of Education academically challenged me and encouraged me to dive deep into topics I might have never voluntarily studied such as personal biases and stereotypes.”
Parra later switched to—and graduated from—the School of Education’s Master’s in Learning and Teaching program. She now plans to complete the counseling program as well for a total of two master’s degrees. Once she secures her master’s in school counseling, she plans to become an elementary school teacher and, eventually, an academic counselor.
Her experience at the University of Redlands School of Education helped her to identify her place of service and impact. It also equipped her with the skills to empower and inspire others.“As an educator I would like to work with students from all socioeconomic groups, helping them to discover the power and freedom that comes with achieving a higher education,” she says.“I want them to know their options and to inspire the confidence that they can successfully pursue their dreams. The School of Education, with its emphasis on educational justice for all, has empowered me to do this daily and now I want to empower others.”