Bay Area educator and Assistant Principal, Cady Kealohi Ching | Working to close the achievement gap through mentorship
Cady Ching | Stanford University | B.A Human Biology
After growing up on the island of Oahu, Cady Kealohi Ching decided to pursue her studies on the mainland. After receiving her BA and MA from Stanford University, Cady worked for nearly a decade in the California public education system as a teacher, teacher-coach and student mentor. Now as an Assistant Principal at Summit Preparatory Charter High School and Board Member of South Pacific Islander Organization, she is passionate about closing the achievement gap and mentoring students to pursue their dreams.
Tell us about your educational journey and how you picked your major.
My educational journey is constantly evolving – even today. While course content equipped me with specific skills and knowledge, it was the broader life lessons that fueled my pursuit of professional opportunities that are aligned with my core beliefs and passions. When I started college, I knew what I wanted to do. I majored in Human Biology to prepare for medical school. I wanted to address the urgent need in my community for diabetes health care by specializing in endocrinology. More than halfway through my undergraduate studies, I realized that the course work and internships I most enjoyed focused on youth. I took a step back. I began to appreciate the power and lasting impact of educating youth. Effective educational experiences could not only prevent an array of health issues, but could enable the next generation to solve persistent, systemic problems on a wider scale. I refocused on prevention through education versus treatment after the fact.
What was your first job out of grad school?
After completing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I spent the next five years teaching high school biology and AP Environmental Science. As I developed as a teacher leader, my focus broadened. I wanted to impact lives both inside and outside the classroom. Working as an Assistant Principal the past two years has allowed me to serve my community in a more comprehensive way. What I love most about my work is supporting underrepresented and at-risk youth.
What are your long-term goals?
My future pursuits will always involve my commitment to community, working to close the achievement gap, and advocating for those whose voices are not heard.
What advice do you have for students preparing for college?
If I were to go back and give myself advice about preparing for college, I would say engage in every experience with an open heart and mind; take classes in all disciplines; take every job opportunity, even if initially it doesn't seem like a "perfect fit." It's okay to change course; to have multiple professions. In fact, that may be the best way to live. The important thing is to start on a path, even if the destination changes along the way.
Also, power through the barriers and don’t be discouraged by limits set by others. My first guidance counselor did not understand the value of my family background and multi-cultural experiences. Since my GPA was not among the top 10% and my experiences were not mainstream, she did not encourage me to apply to top tier schools. Since my family did not have the financial resources to pay for a top-tier school, it was easy to believe I shouldn’t even try. Fortunately, I did try and I was rewarded with the educational experience of a lifetime. Never let someone else dictate your dreams. I can’t promise that you will always get what you want, but the winning is in making the effort, in giving 100% of yourself to the challenge. In that way, you gain experience to help you meet the next, perhaps previously unimagined, challenge and build a meaningful life.
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