Grant Opens Doors for North State Students to Become Teachers
North State students interested in a career in teaching are receiving financial assistance at Chico State through a multimillion-dollar federal grant designed to ease the financial burden of pursuing a college degree.
The three-year, $13.4 million Growing Responsive, Equitable, Adaptable and Transformative (GREAT) Teachers Pipeline grant, awarded to Chico State’s School of Education (SOE), covers tuition costs of aspiring educators. One of the goals of the grant is to increase access to higher education for students in the North State region who face barriers that can slow their progress toward a degree.
Mirna Miranda-Rivas knows the setbacks of balancing work and school to pay for tuition. Throughout her academic career, she worked to cover her living expenses and student loans, she said. That didn’t leave her much time to attend classes.
“I have been in school since 2015,” Miranda-Rivas (Liberal Studies, ’23) said. “I’ve taken out a lot of loans because I’ve already run out of my Pell Grant, since I’ve been in college for so long.”
Through the GREAT Teachers Pipeline grant, her tuition was covered for spring 2023. The financial relief allowed her to take a break from work, focus fully on her coursework, and graduate this summer. She is now enrolled in Chico State’s bilingual credential program.
Miranda-Rivas’ situation is common, especially among historically underserved students who lack familial financial support.
Liberal studies major Valerie Barragan comes from a low-income background. She was on the verge of dropping out of school when she received news the grant would cover her tuition for spring 2023.
“I felt like my job was overpowering school and everything that I believed in. It was just so draining,” said the Tehama County native.
The stipend gave Barragan a renewed determination to finish her degree. She joined the grant’s fall 2023 cohort and is now on track to pursue her teaching credential. Despite the work ahead, she is excited to be that much closer to teaching her own students.
“I want to show students what the real world can be like and how they can present themselves—to guide them to being the better versions of themselves,” she said.
Supporting educators and encouraging prospective teachers to stay in the region has long been a top priority for Chico State’s SOE. The grant supports the SOE’s mission to produce the qualified, diverse, and committed teachers needed in the North State.
Jordan Davis, who is part of the fall 2023 grant cohort, earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Chico State in 2009, but after years in the field, he decided to pivot. He had always been drawn to teaching.
“I realized a lot of my enjoyment came from coaching athletics and working with students, and just seeing their progress,” said Davis, a Special Day Class (SDC) teacher-intern at Gridley High School. “That progress and development is the fulfillment that led me to the credential program.”
While the GREAT Teacher Pipeline grant provides financial assistance to credential candidates, participants also receive professional development, mentorship, and emotional support—something often overlooked in education.
As a part of the program, students attend professional development meetings throughout the semester. The meetings offer a chance to connect with peers and mentors and include training activities largely focused on social-emotional learning.
Since Davis is already teaching full-time, the information he gains from the professional development workshops helps him navigate the challenges of teaching in real time.
“I’m applying a lot of my schoolwork and the things I’m learning in my coursework at school,” he said. “I know a lot of kids are going through a lot of social issues right now. . . . As educators, we are the ones who are trying to shape these kids and trying to look out for their well-being.”
Between financial, emotional, and professional support, the GREAT Teachers Pipeline is an example of how the School of Education is working hard to support the North State community. The grant recipients demonstrate the dedication educators have, despite the many hurdles they must overcome to become teachers.
Applications for the spring 2024 cohort will open on October 1. Students who are interested in applying can learn more about the application process at www.csuchico.edu/soe/financial-aid/norcal-great/application.shtml.