In the moment when a student understands something, their eyes light up and a smile stretches across their face with the pride of accomplishment. It makes all of the lesson planning and activity preparation well worth it!”

Erika’s Story

Teaching Discipline

Marine Biology/AVID

Why Marine Biology/AVID

“I’ve always loved biology, specifically marine biology. I designed this course, with the help of other Knowles Senior Fellows, to teach students about the amazing life found in the ocean, as well as the risks each ecosystem now faces due to the climate crisis and human impacts.”

Professional Experience 

As an aquatic biology major at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Erika began volunteering at an aquarium on campus, teaching visitors about sea life and taking care of the creatures. In this position, she designed extensive lessons for school groups visiting for field trips. Through this work, she realized how much she loved helping students explore and learn about marine ecosystems. 

After graduation, she moved back to the San Francisco area to teach outreach marine science at the Marine Science Institute. The hands-on learning she was able to facilitate made every day exciting and rewarding, however, she became frustrated with the   short time frames she had with each group of students. This realization confirmed for Erika that classroom teaching was the correct career path, which led her to go back to school to earn a teaching credential.

Erika currently teaches at the same school she started at in 2014, and although she initially was a general biology teacher, she is now fortunate enough to have been approved to design and teach a marine biology elective for upperclassmen. 

She is now a National Geographic certified educator, the AVID Program Coordinator, and an AVID elective teacher. As an AVID Program teacher, she loops with her students for their four years of high school, providing support and guidance for them as they grow and learn. This class provides opportunities for Erika to bond with students, discuss current events and local issues, and provide a safe space on campus for first-generation or historically disadvantaged students. Shecontinues to look for ways to be a teacher leader on her campus.


Born and raised near San Francisco, she loves spending time outdoors, preferably in the water. Her affinity for nature and the ocean led her directly to the field of marine biology. While in high school, she became a certified scuba diver, an activity that allows her to practice species identification. In college, she also developed a love for the mountains, as she learned to rock climb and had access to more hiking trails.

Academic Background

  • University of California, Santa Barbara (Master of Education)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara  (Bachelor of Science in aquatic biology, minor in science education)