Gain Life Skills, Earn Money
Each year of college I've filled out a FAFSA. I know I didn’t qualify for work-study my freshman year, but I didn’t realize it because I didn’t know it was even a thing.
When I received my financial aid package my sophomore year I was like, ‘Wait, I qualify for what?’ I didn't even know what work-study meant. All I saw is that I qualified for a chunk of money. So, I did a little bit of my own research before I accepted it. I realized that with work-study I could get an on-campus job or a job really close to campus.
I applied to be a women's soccer manager—I don't even play soccer. I just love sports and athletics and being athletic—I thought it would be fun. I also applied for the front desk at the Nebraska History Museum. Then, I found and applied to America Reads.
After my America Reads interview, I ended up like getting a call from Hartley Elementary a week or so later being like, ‘Hey, do you want to do this thing?’
I chose to work with America Reads because it was closer to education and thought it could be beneficial to me and my future career. I think working with students, especially younger students, can really build a lot of skills that are necessary for life.
I am a secondary science education major and I have had a lot of experience working with kids through coaching volleyball or vacation Bible school, that kind of stuff. I'm very comfortable working with kids. I thought that would be something that I would like, I know how to do and am comfortable with.
I think even if a college job is not necessarily in your career field, it can still give you a lot of valuable skills and life lessons.
I’ve had past work experiences, like a retail job where they forget you're a student. They treat you like a full-time employee. But I knew that I wanted to put school first. I think an on-campus job really provides that. That is a benefit that work-study allows for: flexibility around academics, and that you can also experience other opportunities. Work-study jobs realize that you're a student first. Right? That was really appealing to me because I am very focused on academics and I didn't want a job to overshadow that.
Building Relationships, Making Connections
This is my third year at Hartley. It sounds cheesy, but I've watched some kids grow up. I met them when they were in third grade and now they're going to be middle schoolers—I’ve developed some great relationships with my students.
There is one student in particular that I became close with. He’s a very intelligent student but doesn’t like doing his homework. He hasn’t had great experiences working with other people he doesn’t know super well. So, I took the role of being his homework helper because I was told that I work well with him. I like working with him—he’s a really good student.
Working with students is not something I ever thought I would really enjoy, but I really do. I love the aspect of teaching when I can sit down one-on-one with students or in a small group to explain things and you see that light go off. That's a really great feeling for me. And I think it's a great feeling for students as well.
Pretty much my entire life people have said ‘You'd be a great teacher.’ Growing up I would think to myself, I'm not going to be a teacher just because people were telling me that I should—I think I was just being stubborn. I wanted to forge my own path.
In seventh grade, I did a science fair project on the nervous system and I just loved it. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. That's when I fell in love with science. Growing up, if you liked science, that meant you had to go into the health care field. All throughout junior high, high school and even my first year of college, I was a biological sciences major.
But, at the end of my freshman year, something was nagging at me like, this isn't you, it just didn’t feel right. That summer I kind of mulled it over. And then I remember the first week of my sophomore year, I went in and declared that I was going to change my major to secondary broad science education. The broad science endorsement means I can teach grades 7-12 the four core science areas—earth and space science, biology, chemistry and physics or physical sciences. It's been a really great change because my core area is in biological sciences, but the broad teaching endorsement will make me more hirable.
I think education just fits better with my personality. It’s not a romantic story of always wanting to be a teacher and then going forward with it. But it's okay—we all have our own paths.