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Donya Fegan

Donya Fegan, standing outside near a tree, arms folded and smiling
"I was really aware of the little things that teachers did or didn't do that affected how students saw themselves when navigating school."

Donya Fegan,
MA '22 Stanford Teacher Education Program

Taking it back to community

Donya Fegan grew up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, where her grandmother was a teacher at the reservation’s longhouse — the cultural and spiritual hub of the community — and set high standards for her students.

“She was a real tough-love kind of teacher,” Fegan said. “I remember being a kid and thinking, ‘Dang, I want to be a teacher like that!’”

Fegan, a 2022 graduate of the GSE’s Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), decided to pursue a teaching career in part because of her own experiences in school. Growing up, Fegan always identified as a good student but knew that others didn’t, to some extent because of their interactions with teachers.

“I was really aware of the little things that teachers did or didn’t do that affected how students saw themselves when navigating school,” she said. “As teachers, we need to think more about how we see our students — particularly in terms of race and gender — and who we allow to identify as smart.”

One of two indigenous students in the STEP ‘22 cohort, Fegan is also interested in expanding awareness of indigenous issues in education. She will soon relocate to Louisiana to teach at a public school near New Orleans for a few years, and ultimately intends to apply her training to her indigenous community. “My goal is to return to my reservation to teach,” she said, “and maybe work in a leadership position there.”

August 11, 2022
Photo by Rod Searcey

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