Angalina Maldonado (BA ’23) found her passion for special education working in Garden Grove School District as an instructional aide. After first working with middle school special education students, five years ago she transferred into an elementary classroom with students with moderate to severe support needs, such as autism and Down Syndrome, and everything clicked.

“That’s where I fell in love. It’s a challenging job, but I love being around the kids and knowing that I’m making their day special just by walking in the room.”

Angalina’s supervisors in Garden Grove saw her love for the students and encouraged her return to school to earn a teaching credential. A mother of three, Angalina said Chapman University wasn’t even on her list of potential schools until she learned about the C-TAG for Future Educators program from the counseling staff at Santa Ana College’s Center for Teacher Education.

“I liked everything that the C-TAG offered: the guaranteed admissions and the IES (Integrated Educational Studies) degree program that keeps me on track to finish school to become a teacher.”

C-TAG for Future Educators

C-TAG Chapman students talking with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez

C-TAG cohort students meeting with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, assistant professor in the IES program.

Angalina is part of first cohort of C-TAG for Future Educators students to join Chapman’s Integrated Educational Studies bachelor’s degree program. Developed within the Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies, the C-TAG, or Chapman Transfer Admission Guarantee, program was specially designed for future elementary and special education teachers from Santiago Canyon College (SCC) or Santa Ana College (SAC). Completion of the C-TAG pathway offers aspiring elementary and special education teachers transferring from SCC or SAC guaranteed admission into the IES degree program.

To celebrate the launch of the C-TAG partnerships with SCC and SAC, Chapman University offered 10 full tuition scholarships for students entering as part of the inaugural C-TAG cohort in Fall 2021.

Attallah College’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and External Affairs Michelle Samura, Ph.D., said the IES faculty were blown away by the quality of applicants who applied to the first C-TAG cohort.

“Our first set of C-TAG applicants was incredibly impressive, and we wanted to welcome all of them to Chapman,” said Dr. Samura. “Thanks to the support of Chapman’s senior leadership, we were able to offer full tuition scholarships to all 13 C-TAG transfer students this year.”

Angalina said earning the C-TAG scholarship, and not needing to take out student loans, was a big relief:

“That threw everything else out of the water,” she said. “Then the IES program faculty and staff were so welcoming and warm. I knew, that’s where I’m going.”

READ MORE: Four Chapman C-TAG Students Awarded OC Community Foundation Margaret E. Oser Scholarship

Finding Community

Fellow C-TAG students Olivia Fonseca (BA ’23) and Aidee Guerrero (BA ’23) also found the C-TAG program a good fit for their career goals.

C-TAG students standing outside in front of Chapman's Reeves Hall

Angalina Maldonado (left) and Aidee Guerrero (right) gathering with fellow C-TAG students after class in front of Chapman’s Reeves Hall.

Growing up near the university’s Orange campus, Olivia said it has always been her dream to attend Chapman, even as a little girl. Learning about the IES program through the Santiago Canyon College’s Pathways to Teaching Program furthered her desire to attend Chapman.

“The IES program seemed like a such a good way to come one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a middle school teacher,” said Olivia. “So far, I am happy to say that in my IES classes, I have been learning how to appreciate other people’s differences, and I am excited to learn more about the benefits of valuing and understanding diversity in the people around me.”

Aidee Guerrero, who also works part time as a teacher assistant at Olive Crest Academy in Orange, said the size of the IES program particularly appealed to her. With small class sizes, the Chapman students are able to build relationships with one another and their professors.

In just the few short weeks since the beginning of the fall semester, Aidee said many of the students in her cohort have already formed a close-knit community: “We’re checking in with each other and helping each other out. I also feel like the professors genuinely care about you, and if you have any questions, they’re available.”

Focused on the Future

Now that the fall semester is underway, IES Program Coordinator Jillian Wood, Ph.D., is pleased to see the first C-TAG cohort thriving on campus: “Their diverse perspectives and experiences will enhance the entire Chapman community. It is a privilege to be part of these students’ journeys toward a career in education.”

As a little girl, Angalina Maldonado remembers visiting Chapman when her dance studio held performances in the theater. She never dreamed she’d be back on campus years later as an adult college student.

Although she’s incredibly busy with a part-time job and as a full-time mom and college student, she said setting a good example for her children and other aspiring teachers keeps her motivated: “That’s why I wanted to do this program and to prove to everybody that it’s never too late. You can follow your dreams.”

For more information about Chapman’s undergraduate education and transfer programs, visit the Integrated Educational Studies (IES) and C-TAG for Future Educators webpages.


Display Image at Top: Seven of the 13 Chapman students in the inaugural C-TAG for Future Educators cohort. Angalina Maldonado (back far right), Aidee Guerrero (back right, second from the end), and Olivia Fonseca (front center).