Editor’s Note: As Commencement approaches, we are featuring some of our Neag School Class of 2020 graduating seniors over the coming days.
Major: Elementary Education with a concentration in History
Minor: Human Rights
Extracurriculars: Co-vice president of Leadership in Diversity; competing member and secretary of the UConn Tap Team, a club sport.
Hometown: Groton, Conn.
What do you aspire to be? Dr. Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I have been very fortunate to have individuals and communities throughout my life who have helped me to discover what makes me come alive. Now, I aspire to be someone who helps others find what makes them come alive. Right now, I believe that I can best do that as an educator. However, I will always be open to new adventures, challenges, and opportunities, although I do believe that I will always be connected to the field of education.
Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor thus far has been Dr. Doug Kaufman. I have been fortunate enough to have taken multiple courses with him during my time in Neag, and he has not only consistently pushed me to become the best educator that I can possibly be, but to also continue to grow as a reader, writer, and person. He does all of this with passion, humor, and a desire to infuse student interests into classes, making it very easy for me as a student to love to learn.
“UConn has prepared me for my future career by consistently pushing me outside of my comfort zone. Every day spent as a teacher should be a step outside of your comfort zone.”
What did you accomplish that you’re most proud of? I am most proud of the work that I have completed as a member of Leadership in Diversity. As a freshman, I started out as a general body member of the organization. Over the years, I have grown to become a co-vice president of the group. I am incredibly passionate about the work that we do to encourage students of color to enter the field of education, retain teachers of color, and to foster more culturally sustaining classroom environments. Throughout each academic year, we host general body meetings as a safe and supportive place for students of colors in Neag to come together, workshops for everyone to learn and grow their pedagogical practices, and in the spring, we host our own Multicultural Education conference. I am perhaps most proud of the work we have done to bring our organization and spread our message to professionals and pre-professionals across the country by presenting at the annual National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) Conference.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate this spring, I plan to continue in Neag’s IB/M program to complete my master’s degree. After this, I hope to return back to my hometown and work at an elementary school in the area. In addition, I plan to continue to teach dance at my dance studio, The Dance Extension, in New London/Quaker Hill, Conn. I also intend to continue the work surrounding multicultural education and human rights that I have started here at UConn.
How has UConn prepared you for your future career? UConn has prepared me for my future career by consistently pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I started my freshman year as a very shy, introverted individual. Now, I have the confidence and skills to lead student organizations, present at national conferences, and organize/host a major conference. Every day spent as a teacher should be a step outside of your comfort zone. New students every year, new curriculum, and unexpected challenges are a part of the work of a teacher. Thanks to my time spent at UConn, I have an endless amount of faith in my ability to tackle each new challenge that comes my way.
What advice would you give to a student who is just starting out? The biggest piece of advice that I would give to a student that is just starting out would be to cherish every moment. Even the ones that might make you nervous or upset. Those tough moments are often the ones you learn and grow from the most. At the same time, never be afraid to ask for help. The amount of resources and individuals on this campus that will extend a helping hand is endless, so never feel as though you have to handle anything alone.