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Meet Katrina Tamura

Katrina Tamura, a MiraCosta faculty member teaching English as a Second Language, has been selected for the prestigious 2023-24 Gerald C. Hayward Award for Excellence in Education. 

The award, named for a former chancellor of the California Community Colleges, recognizes exemplary community college faculty members who excel in teaching, engage in professional activities, and show a strong commitment to students, the profession and their college. Tamura will receive the award on March 25 during the California Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting. 

Tamura has been a faculty member in MiraCosta’s noncredit ESL program since 2016. She said she hoped her recognition would bring attention to an annual magazine she puts together with stories, poetry, art and photography from students in MiraCosta’s Continuing Education program.

“I have a great admiration for the diverse array of individuals contributing their poetry, stories, photos, and artwork, spanning various ages, languages, and abilities, Tamura said. “Despite our distinct life journeys, we find common ground through shared human experiences.”

Tamura’s own life journey started in Poway, where she grew up with three sisters. One sister had cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, which had a major influence on Tamura.

“Because of her, I learned early on to be an advocate for people who have barriers to participating or being seen and heard,” Tamura said.

 During high school, Tamura volunteered at a program teaching ESL, giving her an early glimpse of the importance of teaching English to non-speakers of the language. “They needed a job and they needed to be connected to resources in our community,” she said. 

Tamura said her parents couldn’t afford the expense of sending her to college. A friend encouraged her to go to community college, and she attended Palomar College before transferring to California State University, San Marcos to earn a bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and culture. 

After graduating, Tamura spent a year teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a university in China while also teaching at a private school nearby. She realized she enjoyed teaching and came back home to earn a certificate and a specialization English to speakers of other languages.  

Tamura furthered her education with a Master’s degree in English language and literature, and during the pandemic, she earned a certificate in Online Teaching and Design. 

Tamura, who also teaches ESL at Palomar College, enlivens her classes with student-centered active learning techniques and projects, fostering engagement with the material and among students. She finds fulfillment in teaching a diverse range of individuals from across the globe.

 “The best part is being able to meet people from all over the world, to be able to learn from people who come to us with so many life experiences,” she said. 

She said her greatest satisfaction is when her students can accomplish goals that are meaningful to their lives, whether it’s taking a test for a driver’s license, helping their grandchild in school, or achieving an academic goal. 

"I aim to equip my students with essential language skills and empower them to pursue their aspirations and opportunities with confidence both inside and outside the classroom,” she said. 

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