Maaliki-Maye helps young people who have an eye to the future

Maaliki-Maye helps young people who have an eye to the future 
December 21, 2011

Phil Brozynski
(630) 829-6094

Lisle, IllinoisMaaliki ~ Asra Maaliki-Maye was working as an optometry technician when her path suddenly became very clear to her.

"I have always admired my teachers and thought highly of them, but did not picture myself becoming one," she said. "I especially admired my math teachers in high school because they made me see math in a different light and pushed me to excel in it, although it was not my favorite subject in middle school.

"I loved science and discussed it all the time," Maaliki-Maye added. "Science explained many things to me and I wanted to share my love for science with others. I tutored my siblings at home and my first paid job was to tutor in high school. I had love for teaching all along but it took some time to really pinpoint it.

"Going into teaching was only the natural thing to do," she said.

Maaliki-Maye graduated from New York University with a double major in Near Eastern Studies and Pre-med. She took graduate courses in Medical Microbiology at Long Island University. But she was not certified to teach. So she turned to Benedictine University and the Alternative Certification Program.

Benedictine's Alternative Certification Program provides an eight-week intensive summer training program with an individualized mentor who guides students toward teaching success. Graduates earn an initial teaching certificate and a paid one-year internship through the school district of hire. More than 96 percent find employment within one year of completion.

"The Alternative Certification Program at Benedictine is very well structured," Maaliki-Maye said. "The professors are excellent teachers themselves, great listeners, go out of their way to help you, provide you with constructive feedback, and give you many resources which I am still using in class.

"All the topics covered, such as class management, special education and child/adolescent development, are on point and help you advance as a student, teacher and a professional," she added. "You get hands-on teaching experience and tons of activities and ideas that you can use in class. The teachers and staff really care about you and your success in the program."

After completing the eight-week summer program, candidates receive assistance in finding positions in area schools where they are paid like full-time teachers, working under the supervision of a University-appointed mentor.

"My university supervisor enlightened me with many positive remarks and helped me strengthen my weaknesses," Maaliki-Maye said. "He guided me in the right direction. He pointed out what worked during class and what did not, which activities the students were interested in and whether my lesson was student-centered and engaged my diverse students."

Maaliki-Maye is now employed at Ada S. McKinley Alternative High School on the near South Side of Chicago, where she teaches Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science to students in grades 9-12. McKinley is home to a diverse population of students where nearly 30 percent live at or below the poverty level.

"Working in an urban environment, I strongly believe that we are a safe haven to many of our students," Maaliki-Maye said. "Our students come with a lot of baggage, and when I show them tough love, they know that I care about them but want them to do better in school and strive for the impossible.

"I want my students to know that anyone can make it in life and achieve all their goals if they put their mind to it," she added. "It takes commitment, dedication and your best effort to move forward. I certainly made the right choice by becoming a teacher. I feel fulfilled every time I see light bulbs go on once a student finally gets it."

If you are looking for personal satisfaction, are ready for the challenge of teaching math or science to students in grades 6-12 and want to make a difference in the lives of young people, contact Alternative Certification Program director John Zigmond at (630) 829-1364.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit