Student Profile - Lauren Prats
GSE program: Elementary Special Educator
Undergraduate program: BS, Portland State University
Lauren Prats has spent her life in the classroom. With a family full of educators, from teachers to administrators, it comes as no surprise that she would pursue a career in special education. In addition to her family legacy, she feels a strong desire to work with students who experience emotional, developmental, and academic disabilities. In the next five to ten years, Lauren hopes to work in an elementary school as a special educator and to continue advancing her education and knowledge. She emphasizes the role of legal and ethical rights of students, and how they impact involvement in school activities. The challenges and the rewards of making progress, where it hasn’t existed before, and having students see the possibilities leaves her excited and fulfilled.
1. Why did you choose the Special Education (SPED) program at Portland State University?
Portland State University offers its students a chance to engage in a safe and diverse setting. In my undergrad, I had the opportunity to experience this first hand. I was surrounded by individuals of different cultures, race, SES, religion, etc. When I decided to apply to graduate school for special education I knew PSU was the place for me. Portland State University excels at providing its students with the skills needed to exceed in a diverse society. Acquiring these skills will make there students more effective, efficient, knowledgable, and sought after members of the work-force. The emphasis PSU places on diversity makes their SPED program superior to the rest. I am confident I will graduate prepared to be an advocate for students.
2. Why education? How did you know that you wanted to be an educator?
I am often asked what influenced me to become a teacher. With a family full of educators, from teachers to administrators, I have spent my life in the classroom. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to volunteer in a variety of classroom settings. What I have discovered is a strong passion to work with students who experience emotional, developmental, and academic disabilities. This is what has lead me to pursue a career in Special Education. The challenges and the rewards of making progress, where it hasn’t existed before, and having students see the possibilities leaves me excited and fulfilled.
3. What have you learned about yourself since you started the Special Education (SPED) program at Portland State University?
As I approach the end of my first term, what I have learned about myself is to worry less. I am surrounded by knowledgable professors and faculty that genuinely care about my success. At PSU's graduate school of education they focus on quality, not quantity. It is never a matter of "if" I can, but rather when.
4. Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years? What are your personal and professional goals?
In the next five to ten years, I would like to be working in an elementary school as a special educator. I would also like to continue advancing my own education and knowledge. My desire is to become a highly qualified teacher and advocate for students.
5. What lessons have you learned within the program that have helped you outside school?
I have learned that our education system demands teachers who are knowledgable and proficient at understanding differences and how diversity impacts students and schools. As a special educator I must understand the modes of communication available and how AAC can benefit student learning and self-efficacy. I will need to be knowledgable about the legal and ethical responsibilities as I advocate for students. All students are entitled to a free appropriate public eduction in the least restrictive environment. As a special educator, I will need to consider how the legal and ethical rights of students will impact the IEP planning and involvement in school activities.