Find the courage to pursue your passions.
I was able to find my voice and really, really shout it loud. I just know that I’m comfortable in my own skin, in my profession, my schoolwork and my future career. I’ve been able to grow a lot at Nebraska; this is an environment where your opinions are respected, and they matter.
I came into the university as an advertising and public relations major. I took the advertising and public relations intro classes, and I said, “maybe this is not for me—maybe I want to go back to what I originally wanted to do in high school—that’s education.”
So, I changed my major. I think that it’s so important for everyone to know that it’s okay to change your major or to be undecided. Even though I did have a really good experience in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, I decided that it wasn’t necessarily for me. I began my teaching classes and really enjoyed it.
I joined University Program Council (UPC) and absolutely fell in love with it. Even though UPC is in hospitality, I didn’t feel out of place because I was an education major. There are so many things that you can learn from clubs and activities that don’t necessarily have to be specific to your major. There are still so many valuable skills I gained from this organization that I carry with me to this day.
I also became an orientation leader because I thought that even though new students aren’t elementary kids, I could really have an impact on other students because of my experiences; I can really teach and relate to them. I think it’s all about those types of relationships—whether you’re a teacher to a five-year-old or an orientation leader to a 20-year-old.
I remember teaching a lesson of guided reading during the first semester of practicum my junior year. It was only like six students, but I just remember really clicking with those six students and really finding what I call my “teacher voice.”
That was the first time I think I really found that voice. I wasn’t shaky. I wasn’t hesitant. I could answer any questions they had, even though sometimes you have no idea how to answer in a way that they can understand. That moment really accelerated me into the next practicum. I was in kindergarten—that uses a lot more of your teacher voice because it’s a lot louder.
I actually was very grateful to get to go into a classroom last semester. We had five students who were completely remote on Zoom, and I also had 20 students in the classroom. It was such a learning curve teaching through Zoom or with a mask or not being able to have hands-on things because we couldn’t share materials.
Being able to be really, really adaptable was such a very important thing in this field experience. I really enjoyed being able to go into the classroom and actually get to see their little faces. It’s been nice to have a sense of normalcy throughout this whole pandemic.
I’m really grateful that a lot of the professors I’ve had are previous teachers. They’re able to give us personal experiences and stories that we can relate to. Then, we can apply it to what we’re doing in practicum back to what we’re learning in the classroom. Whether that is creating a lesson plan from scratch, teaching it and then reflecting on what we can do better next time, it’s just really using our own personal experiences and relating those back to what we’ve been through.
I will always relate back to the relationships that I built at Nebraska and those skills that I’ve built, whether that be my interpersonal skills, such as my identity or my voice, or how I build relationships with my students.