Alumni Spotlight

Roberta “Bobbie”
(Roy) Cukro ’07 M.A. ’11

Special Education Teacher
East Whittier Middle School

Major: Child Development

Minors: Spanish and Elementary Education

Activities: Palmer Society; Cross Country and Track & Field; Resident Advisor; ASWC Student Body President; ASWC Secretary; Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society); Delta Phi Upsilon (Early Childhood Education Honor Society); Omicron Delta Kappa (National  Leadership Honor Society); Media Council; Work Study in Education & Child Development Department; Work Study in Office of Student Activities; 2007 Student Commencement Speaker

What first attracted you to Whittier College? I decided early on in life that I wanted to pursue a career in teaching and I knew that Whittier had an exceptional teacher preparation program. I was also drawn to Whittier for its small class sizes. I visited as a high school senior and I liked the way in which professors knew their students’ names and interacted personally in a very genuine way.

Why did you choose to study education?  Growing up I had some really great teachers who challenged me and established in me a lifelong love for learning. I chose to study education with the hope that I could positively impact future generations just as my teachers had impacted me. 

Describe your experience at Whittier College. My experience at Whittier has definitely helped to shape the person that I am today. Because of the small liberal arts school environment, I was able to be involved in so many things on campus and serve my fellow Poets in a variety of leadership roles. This involvement helped me to develop leadership skills that would serve me in my future endeavors. One of my favorite professors was Professor Kathleen Ralph.  I took several education courses with her and my favorite was “Children’s Literature.” Professor Ralph has a deep knowledge of and love for reading and this passion is passed along to her students.  As a result of the courses I took with her, I am proud to say that I will forever be a children’s book nerd. 

What was your most memorable moment at Whittier College?  It’s so hard to pick just one!  Highlights include time spent with my Palmer sisters every Wednesday eating lunch at The Rock, traveling to New Orleans with fellow Poets to work on houses after Hurricane Katrina, participating in the groundbreaking for what is now the new Campus Center, and speaking at commencement.

Did you intern while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like?  During my time at Whittier, I spent four years as a work-study student in the Department of Education and Child Development. I was able to work closely with professors and interact with undergraduate and graduate students. I also spent two years working for the Office of Student Activities [now the Leadership Experience and Programs office] and learned a lot about event planning. 

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally?  After I graduated from Whittier, I continued in the fall of 2007 as a graduate student and completed my multiple subject teaching credential. In the fall of 2008, I began my career at Ocean View Elementary School in Whittier as a first grade teacher. During my first few years of teaching, I continued as a part-time graduate student at Whittier and in December of 2010, I completed my master’s in education. In the summer of 2012, I reenrolled at Whittier to work toward an education specialist credential and began the 2013-2014 school year as a middle school special education teacher at East Whittier Middle School. In addition to my time spent as a teacher, I spent five summers from 2006-2010 working for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Program working with gifted and talented students in a residential setting (I worked as a resident advisor and spent two summers as the dean of residential life). My Whittier education helped to provide me with the leadership and practical skills, as well as the academic knowledge to be an effective classroom teacher. I continue to return to Whittier for my graduate work because of the amazing professors in the education department—they truly care about students and are dedicated to helping you succeed.    

What advice would you give to future education alumni when they graduate?  Your education professors at Whittier will be some of the best mentors, even after you graduate from Whittier. They will make themselves available to you and you should definitely take advantage of that! Professor Ivannia Soto-Hinman and Professor Trisha Nishimura have been extremely supportive both during my time as a student and throughout my teaching career.  In addition, Cathy George (Whittier College’s Education Department Credential Analyst) is a great resource!  Continue to be involved with Whittier—I currently am a part of the College’s Education Advisory Committee which meets several times a year to discuss current trends in education and ways in which Whittier can best prepare its education graduates for future success. With this continued involvement, I feel that this is a great way I can give something back to an institution which has given me so much. 

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because…Whittier has helped to mold me into the person that I am today and I will forever be grateful for that. 

 -Are you a graduate of the Department of Education & Child Development and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at