2015 Class of ’54 Alumni Awards

Location: United States

Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship for Alumni Recipients 2015

Amherst is proud of its recent graduates who have chosen to teach in urban and other school systems where students may be considered “at risk” or are socio-economically disadvantaged.  Through the generosity of the Class of 1954, which has established a Commitment to Teaching Fund, Amherst is able each year to award stipends to a limited number of Amherst graduates who have been teaching for ten years or less.


The 2015 awardee biographies are listed below.

View the Program Book Here

Michaela Duggan ’11 spent her time at Amherst developing an interdisciplinary major focused on educational inequality, volunteering at El Arco Iris, and completing the Urban Education Interterm program in New York City. She began teaching through Teach For America and at the STEM Preparatory Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. For two years, Michaela taught 5th grade science and served as the Chair of the Healthy Schools Team. She currently works as a 6th grade science teacher at Boston Collegiate Charter School. She is a member of the Achievement Network Transition Fellows, a group of teachers documenting the school’s transition to the Common Core, and the Standards Based Grading Working Group, a group developing a new grading system for the school. Michaela has also worked as a coach and mentor for new teachers through the Teach For America Summer Institute in Atlanta and will do so again this upcoming summer in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Saskia Fabricant ’09 majored in American Studies at Amherst, and has always been interested in working with urban youth, particularly recent immigrants to the United States. After graduating, Saskia moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts where she tutored in the subjects of math and English at Phoenix Charter Academy. The following year, she traveled to Ecuador to learn Spanish and teach English. While there, she decided to pursue teaching and returned to Boston to earn her Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language at Simmons College. During this time, she taught English to international students and homeless adults. Saskia now works at the Humanities and Leadership Development High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where she teaches intermediate level ESL classes and supports content area teachers in their work with English Language Learners.

Nancy Hawa ’05 began her teaching career in 2008 with the New York City Teaching Fellows. Since then, she has taught English, social studies, math and science to students across the spectrum of middle- and high-school-age students. In recent years, she developed a special passion for teaching English to under-performing students, and now works as a Special Education teacher at Kingsborough Early College Secondary School. Outside of the classroom, Nancy coaches the school’s Model Congress team, which she has found to be a thoroughly inspiring experience.

John Mead ’09E was a member of the first cohort of the Rhode Island Teaching Fellows (RITF), an alternate-route certification program established by The NewTeacher Project in 2009. He began teaching mathematics at Central Falls High School and was soon involved in the school’s much publicized turnaround initiative, becoming Lead Mathematics Teacher. The revised curriculum, interim testing and need-based interventions he spearheaded led to all-time high performances on state standardized mathematics assessments. Following the school’s turnaround, John became a Mathematics Instructional Coach in the Providence Schools. There, as a member of the district’s Academy for Leveraging Leadership, he develops and revises the district’s elementary mathematics curriculum and assessments and supports teachers in designing, delivering and evaluating classroom instruction. Outside of school, John has worked as a Selector and a Teacher Development Coach with RITF to recruit, screen and train 60 new teachers in hard to fill content areas. He enjoys spending time with his family, creating modular origami art and cooking vegetarian dinners and treats.

Gabriela Camacho Serrano ’01 (not present) is originally from Lynwood, California. After graduating from Amherst, she began teaching history at her own alma mater, Lynwood High School. She also began teaching a college prep elective called Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID). During the first five years of her teaching career, Gabriela worked to earn teaching credentials from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Masters in Education from the University of Southern California. Soon after, she became Activities Director at Lynwood, a role she has held for nine years.

Melissa Ulloa ’07 majored in history at Amherst and went on to receive her M.S. in Teaching Special Education from Pace University in 2009. She spent five years as a special education teacher at P.S. 62 in the Bronx, New York. In addition to teaching the fourth grade, Melissa also dedicated her time to writing the school development plan as the Co-Chair of the School Leadership Team working with a team of teachers and families to create social and academic goals for the school and drive results toward those goals. She then spent two years as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development with Teach for America, mentoring first and second year corps members in San Jose public schools. She joined KIPP Heritage Academy in San Jose, California, last July and currently works teaching fifth grade technology, providing special education academic services and serving as a Dean at the school.