CSU’s CalStateTEACH online credentials program not only is winning major recognition from the academic and business communities, it is gaining increased praise from its graduates who are now shaping young minds in schools across the state.

Take alumni Lora Carey and Monique Manjarrez, for instance. Carey, who is now teaching 5th graders in Salinas after graduating in 2014 from Cal State Monterey Bay, describes the program and its faculty as “awesome” and “amazing.”

“I love it!” said Manjarrez, a kindergarten teacher in Fremont who graduated last December from CSUMB.

“CalStateTEACH is a fabulous program for students that have personal obligations that need to be juggled,” she added. “This was the perfect program for me since I wanted to be able to do much of the homework in the comfort of my home while I was with my children.

“Being a single mom, I did not want to leave my children at home many days a week while I took classes on a campus miles away. I was able to do my own schoolwork alongside them in our home, and they were able to witness their mom working hard on a big goal. They have expressed how proud they are of me and that makes me feel good,” said Manjarrez.

For Manjarrez, the road to her new teaching career was a long one – nine years to earn her bachelor’s degree and credential. Born in Southern California into a family of two brothers and two sisters, she is the first to attend college and among the first of 43 cousins to graduate college. Her parents both work for the school district.

Determined to succeed, she worked her way through school as a waitress or retail store employee to earn enough cash to pay for her tuition.

“I took as many classes as I could afford each semester, but the hard work was worth it,” she said.

Her motivation for becoming a teacher was born when she became a mother. “I evaluated my life and wondered what kind of career would help me balance my work with the ability to be present in my kids’ lives. I had worked with small children in a home preschool setting for a few years and desired to work outside of the home with school-age children and have other adults to work with. Once I thought about careers that truly make a difference in the world, the teaching profession seemed like it would be the most fulfilling for me.”

During her undergraduate studies and while substitute teaching, Manjarrez spoke with a fellow teacher who was in the CalStateTEACH program. “She really praised the program and how easy it was to balance personal life with the workload. Since I had two children, it seemed like a good fit. The cost was a great value, and I really appreciated that the entire program is planned out for you.”

“My goal,” she added, “is to continue working in a kindergarten classroom, and then later possibly moving up to first to third grade levels. At some point, I’d like to return to school to get a master’s degree in educational psychology.”

When Carey was asked about her overall impressions of the CSU online credentials program, she didn’t hesitate to say: It has high-quality faculty and mentor teachers. It’s rigorous with high standards, but I know I am a better teacher because of the program.

“I had amazing mentor teachers who I still go back to for ideas. I am able to blend both the innovative techniques from one and the traditional methods from another to help me develop not just a passion for teaching but excellent classroom management strategies as well.”

Carey enrolled at CSUMB, relying on a combination of scholarships, part-time work and student loans to finance her college education. Her motivation in life derives from “the people who pushed me to explore my passions and curiosity.” That curiosity led to her seeking a teaching credential and finding the CalStateTEACH program while exploring the various credentialing options.

“I love teaching 5th grade and I am looking to going back to school to earn a master’s degree in instructional science and technology. Maybe someday I will be a school or district technology or instructional coach. Someday I would love to be a CalStateTEACH faculty member. Helping upcoming teachers enter the profession would be awesome!”