My First Job: Ashley Gonzalez

A person’s first job in their field of choice kickstarts their career and sets the tone for the future. We spoke to recent graduates who make up the CASE community to learn more about what their first experience looked like. This is one in a series we’ve titled My First Job.

Ashley Gonzalez didn’t have a specific career path in mind when she first stepped foot onto FIU’s campus in 2013, but that quickly changed after her first semester.

“I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I realized my passion for education in FIU’s Discover Your Major course,” Gonzalez said. “Within the course, we delved into characteristics of various careers and how they aligned with our ideals. I realized education was the perfect path for me.”

She enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (Grades K-6) Program, a unique experience in teaching and learning through coursework, field experiences and community engagement. Through the program, Gonzalez gained the experience and skill set needed to succeed in impacting the lives of future generations.

Before graduation, the Office of Clinical Experiences placed Gonzalez at Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8 Academy, where she completed her student teaching internship.

The now special education teacher for grades 6-8 crossed the stage in 2017 with not only a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education but also a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in Communication Leadership and Conflict Management.

“During my time as an undergraduate student, I was very passionate about leadership. I wanted to be a good leader and I admired those who I considered being one,” Gonzalez said. “I knew that as a teacher of any grade level, I would be dealing with some sort of conflict management.”

Following graduation, Gonzalez had several job interviews, that led to multiple job offers. Ultimately, she decided to accept a position at the same school where she completed her student teaching internship. There was only one condition. She needed to complete a few courses to be certified to teach grades 6-12.

While an offer at a different school may have been easier, Gonzalez’s time at Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8 Academy during her last semester gave her a sense of comfort.

However, Gonzalez feared the unknown as she transitioned into her career.

“I had never been out of school and was not sure what to expect. Everyone told me it would be difficult, so I was worried I might not be able to handle the change and intensity of the working world.”

Gonzalez had people in her corner supporting her on her venture. One person in particular she credits is Dr. Judith Cohen, Director of Clinical Experiences.

“Judith Cohen was very helpful in the transition between student to teacher,” Gonzalez said. “She provided meaningful advice based off of her experience and resolved any worries that I had in regards to transitioning.”

Rookie teacher of the year

Despite any apprehension she may have had, Gonzalez quickly excelled in her role.

She was named Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8 Academy’s Rookie Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

“Like all teachers, I wear many hats. I am sometimes a counselor and social worker. Working with children is so important as many of them have not yet learned how to advocate for themselves. As an adult in their life, it is important to me that I guide them in learning how to speak up for themselves while also ensuring they are learning.”

When she’s not helping shape little minds, Gonzalez is working on her Master of Science degree in Education and Social Change.