The Path to Teaching

Diana Vaca’s transition from a medical student in China to a math teacher in the U.S. brought her to something she loves.


Jaclyn Rodriguez

The path to teaching comes with a lot of hard work.

By Jaclyn Rodriguez, Social Media Editor

Growing up in Guangzhou, China, Diana Vaca, George Ranch math teacher, was surrounded by teachers, from her parents to her grandparents. It seemed like destiny that she would want to become a teacher, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As a child, Vaca wanted to be anything from a pig farmer to a geologist to a biologist, and as time went on she enrolled in Jinan University as a medical student. Vaca’s love for science uniquely developed after attending summer camps. She would spend her summers with professors, learning about plant life, and catching butterflies and bugs.

“Summer camp is eye opening, I really love that,” Vaca said.

By the time she turned 22, with a dream of having a career in the medical field and her passion for science behind her, it was time to move to America. However, the transition from Guangzhou to California wasn’t easy. Vaca soon found herself lost, and began working as a piano teacher to support herself. After five years, she began to grasp the English language and was attending California State University. While working and going to school, Vaca soon realized that, despite it’s low financial reward, she had a passion for teaching.

This is what makes me happy

— Diana Vaca

“I like teaching. When I was little girl I was teaching the neighborhood kids how to do exercises already,” Vaca said.

Finding her devotion to teaching wasn’t easy. Coming from a family of teachers, Vaca had tried to run as far away from that career as possible.  Ultimately, she saw the real reward to teaching is seeing the students work hard and strive to take what they’ve learned and use it well.

“Over time kids will see, they know that you care about them they know that you love them,” Vaca said. 

Despite her love of science, Vaca decided to teach math. Through her experiences, she has learned that the number one thing students struggle with when it comes to math, is how it will benefit them in the future. Statistics is the one math that can be readily applied to the real world, and no one is more passionate about it than Vaca.

“I don’t think anyone else likes it as much as I do… this is my class nobody else is going to take that away from me.” Vaca said. 

However, she did have her fair share of obstacles. There were many parent teacher conferences where the parents would request their child be taken out of her class because she was Chinese. Overcoming adversity, Vaca rose above and proved that she could teach and teach well.

“This is my calling. This is make me happy, I find my nature already,” Vaca said.