Adversity fuels elementary and early childhood education major’s passion for teaching
During her time at Penn State Berks, Michel Germán dedicated her efforts to helping others, in and out of the classroom, all while persevering through adversity. The Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, native graduated on May 6 with her bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education during the Penn State Berks commencement ceremony.
Germán credits her parents, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States, for showing her and her sister what it means to give back to other people.
“My parents continued to give back to their communities after becoming American citizens by shipping big boxes full of goods to provide for children in poverty and families with needs in different areas,” she said. “My mother was always searching for uniforms on sale, school supplies, and more to provide back to the local schools she used to teach at. I’ve seen their passion for helping since I was young and want to continue doing the same.”
In 2021, Germán’s mother had two strokes within the span of three months, which resulted in her losing her motor abilities and becoming quadriplegic. Germán, her sister, and her father are her caregivers.
Her desire to become a teacher also comes from her mother, who taught at an elementary school in the Dominican Republic. As a future teacher, Germán wants to have an impact on her students’ overall development, not just their academic development.
“I want to help children grow not only academically but as a people,” she said. “I love to demonstrate to children that we can all face challenges in life, and that we’re strong enough to get back up and try again.”
Germán chose Penn State Berks for the diversity on the campus and because it is close enough to her hometown that she could balance taking care of her parents and her education.
During the spring 2023 semester, she gained student-teaching experience at Amanda E. Stout Elementary School in Reading. Additionally, Germán earned the Professionalism in Elementary and Early Childhood Education Award for her work and progress in the program. “It was the highlight of my year,” she said. “The students and team that I worked with at Amanda Stout Elementary helped me develop as an educator.”
When asked about what she was looking forward to most about graduation day, Germán said her parents’ reactions. “My parents mean the world to me, and they have always sacrificed so much to give my sister and me. They are the reason why I am here today,” she said.
Germán plans to find a job teaching at a public city school. Eventually, she also wants to earn her master’s degree in English as a Second Language (ESL), because she was inspired by her experience being an English language learner and working with ESL students.