In Focus: Suveen K. Sahni
Tell us about your background and how you knew you wanted to be a teacher.
All throughout high school I knew exactly what I wanted to do; I wanted to be a corporate lawyer. The plan was always to attend an institution that would quench my thirst to learn to be the best advocate for mergers and acquisitions. The plan was set and all I had to do was run and let the sky be my limit. I attended Baruch College for my undergraduate education and completed a B.A. in Political Science. I started preparing for my LSAT exam early my junior year, not knowing that the end of the year would bring a huge change in my plans. I was very much involved on campus and was the president of a social activist group called Solutions Across Borders, where I got the experience and exposure of being a leader, mentor, and teacher to other fellow classmates.
I was sure I loved participating in classroom activities, helping others with classwork and tutoring, but never did I think that all these interests would eventually foster my interest in education. It was definitely not until my experience interning at Butterflies, an NGO in India, that I realized teaching was my calling. While interning for Butterflies, I got the opportunity to work as a teacher on a mobile school bus. Yes, you read correctly, a mobile school bus! This bus was not your typical yellow school bus. It had no seats for students to sit on and instead, it had cabinets inside to hold books, mini chalk-boards and other school supplies. This bus visited and parked at different contact points daily; each contact point was the home of the many impoverished communities—more commonly known as the “slums.” The bus picked up street and working children who did not have the same access to an education as their counterparts. This experience ignited my passion for teaching and highlighted my desire to do the unplanned-- teach.
What brought you to Hofstra University for graduate studies?
After much research and a brief meeting with Dr. Alan Singer, Director of Secondary Social Studies Education at Hofstra's School of Education, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to attend an institution as reputable and friendly as Hofstra University. I never had a private school education before this, but my experience completing my graduate studies at Hofstra was a great one.
How would you describe your field placements/student teaching experience?
Student teaching provided me with some of the best resources, feedback and experience. I probably would have never been able to work with such a well qualified school district and teachers if Hofstra's field placement office had not pulled some strings. My student teaching experience at the North Shore School District tested not only my pedagogy and content expertise, but also stimulated the better teacher in me. Having a great cooperating teacher is always a plus!
Did you find mentors while you studied at Hofstra?
All the professors I had at Hofstra during my graduate studies helped me to recognize the teacher in me, in their own eays. They highlighted my strengths and focused on how to improve on my weaknesses. With constructive criticism and workshops, preparing for a career in academia became a whole lot easier. Professor Paternostro was particularly helpful each and everyday during my restless nights and long days of preparing lesson plans. She was both my mentor and supervisor during student teaching. Her helping hand and words of motivation got me through student teaching, graduation and through the sometimes impossible employment search.
How has Hofstra prepared you for the job search process post-graduation?
The many resources at Hofstra prepared me for the job search process post-graduation. Support at the Career Center reviewed my resume and cover letter multiple times, until I finally was comfortable with what I wanted to submit to future employers. In a competitive employment market like today, the key to getting a job is maintaining your unique personality but at the same time displaying yourself as a candidate who is wiling to adjust, learn and grow in a community of learners. This is something that I learned how to balance in the midst of mock interviews, seminars and student teaching. Professors at Hofstra opened us up to the harsh realities of the marketplace but at the same assured us that there are still some jobs out there. Hofstra prepared me well to find the right one.
What are your long-term goals?
At the moment, I am working as a Social Studies teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. Getting a job in NYC in the midst of hiring freeze months after graduating from Hofstra was a true blessing. For now, I would like to focus on developing on my pedagogy and hopefully getting tenure. In the long run however, I would like to go back to school for a second masters in Educational Administration. After a great experience at Hofstra once before, I am most definitely going to be back!