MAT Alumni Spotlight: Sheng Xiong, MA ’23

Sheng poses for a headshot with flowers in a garden.

Sheng Xiong, MA ’23

Each year, USF has the great honor of recommending our new graduates for their CA Teaching Credential! Today, we have the chance to spotlight one of our recent alum, Sheng Xiong. Sheng just completed the Master of Arts in Teaching + Teaching Credential (MAT) program here at the University of San Francisco – Sacramento Campus. In this blog post, Sheng shares some of her experiences, the importance of a social justice driven program, and commends some of her favorite instructors in the program.


Tell us about yourself, what degree you earned, and your goals now that you have graduated?

During the pandemic, I did a lot of self reflection and realized that my true passion lies with working with students and helping others excel in their career. I decided to apply for the USF MAT program so I can pursue a teaching career. During my classes and my student placement teaching, I realized that I made the right decision because I loved every day working in the classroom. It was also valuable working alongside like-minded colleagues and my cohort members. Therefore, I strive to work in a collaborative environment with my colleagues and continue to learn the best teaching strategies that will maximize learning for each and every student. Also, I believe that teaching is always evolving and I want to continue professional development for myself as an educator. Lastly, this program showed me how to teach with a social justice lens. My goal for my classroom is to create an equitable, inclusive, and safe learning environment for all.

How has the MAT program prepared you for your career and any particular skills that you may use on a daily basis?

Every single class started with re-introducing myself to my cohort members and the professors. This was very impactful as it highlighted the importance of each of our individuality and showed that our professors cared about knowing us. I plan to use this strategy in my own classroom to create a harmonious learning community where each person’s individuality is respected and celebrated. Secondly, every class utilized the USF lesson plan and provided teaching philosophies, strategies and ideas that will help educators. It was important for me to understand how to write a lesson plan and the components of the lesson plan. Knowing how to start the lesson with a hook, aligning the common core standards with the objectives, and having assessment plans clearly outlined each lesson. Lastly, I also found classroom management, curriculum mapping, and UDL (universal design for learning) incredibly useful on a daily basis as a teacher.

Is there a professor or classroom experience that had a major impact on you during your time in the program?

I would like to thank all of my professors in this MAT program and my two placement teachers Mrs. Celey-Butlin and Mr. Sutter for their support throughout this program. Also thank you to Dr. Fenderson for being a fantastic program director and her guidance. Professor Molina shared her passion in social justice and created engaging classroom activities to assist us to understand the importance of social justice. It was incredibly eye-opening and impactful to recognize how my own privilege can oppress others and learn how I can use my own privilege to help others. I think the “Buying Privilege” activity resonated with me and most of my cohort members. I would not have survived student teaching without such a positive, caring, and energetic seminar professor like Professor Bramham. She provided a safe space for us to share our experiences and found tools to help us prepare for and pass our CalTPA. I gave birth to my first baby during my second student placement and was able to succeed thanks to her support. Professor Rikkers classes stood out to me because they were the classes I did not realize I needed! I say that because the pandemic affected our students greater than I can ever imagined. This was very evident during student teaching where I saw learning gaps. Her class prepared me for how to respond to and help with students who have experienced trauma. I enjoyed learning about trauma-informed education, learning brain versus survival brain, and how to teach adolescents.

What was your favorite memory from your time in the MAT program?

Hands down it will have to be my two student placements. I did not want to leave the classroom at all because of the bond and relationships I made with the students and staff. I realized that maintaining positive relationships with students makes the classroom environment more effective.

What projects or hobbies are you passionate about outside of teaching?

Currently my biggest hobby is watching my infant son grow and celebrating his milestones. I am a family person and enjoy spending time with my son, husband, and extended family. I enjoy good food, great company, and listening to music. One of my favorite quotes is to “dream without fear” and I hope to continue my professional development as I embark on my educator journey. Besides being an English teacher, I aspire to also inspire others to find a career they are passionate about and help prepare them for that career. I also love watching sports and relaxing in my home watching my favorite movies or TV shows.

What is important for students to know and be aware of (networking, practice interviews, internships, etc.) in preparation for their careers post-graduation?

These are some things I learned and found that helped me along the way. Always be confident and prepared before going into an interview. Always maintain professional and positive relationships. A positive attitude really goes a long way. Take a breath! Be yourself and work hard and you will naturally shine.

On behalf of the USF Sacramento Team, we would like to thank Sheng for sharing her story with us. We can’t wait to see where her career takes her and the lives he will change!

Javier Gutierrez

Hello, my name is Javier Gutierrez and I am the Assistant Director of the USF Sacramento Branch Campus. My blog posts are all about highlighting our campus community including the wonderful faculty, staff, and students that walk the halls!