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5 Questions With Student Mark A. McLean


MarkAMcLeanMark A. McLean is an undergraduate student studying in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. After working for nearly 25 years, Mark’s career path led him to pursue his Bachelor of Science from the College of Education.

We spoke with Mark about his motivations for enrolling in the college and what his experiences have been thus far.

Why did you choose to attend NC State?

I wanted to be surrounded and supported in an academic culture that developed students to be leaders, not merely graduates.

I wanted a university where scholarly research and analysis is institutional, and collaborative learning projects are diverse and include faculty. A university where a deep vein of science, technology, engineering and math run through all the curricula, just as it does through me.

Why did you choose the College of Education specifically?

With a shop apron, bevels, chisels and sandpaper, I began my first career 25 years ago sculpting boat hulls, where contour and precision were symbiotic. Where a single millimeter error in symmetrical lotus translated into a loss of 2 knots on the open water.

Many years later, my career brought me to work alongside professional educators, instructional designers and scientists where innovation and pedagogy were also symbiotic. These professionals reinforced my appetite for science and propelled my interest in education.

NC State’s College of Education has the resources and faculty to significantly augment my first career with the best practices for teaching science in my second. The College of Education is far beyond a cohort of students and educators. It is community of complementary relationships, professionals and academics working around the globe to address educational issues — exactly where I belong.

Are you involved with any extracurricular activities?

I’m a volunteer technology educator with the Cypress of Raleigh Assisted Living and Retirement Community and a volunteer who helps refurbish and donate computers to families with school-aged children.

What’s your favorite thing about the STEM Ed department and your classes?

The late NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano said, “Every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things.” That is exactly what I love about the STEM Ed. department and my classes.

I know exactly what Jimmy V. is talking about because I see it everyday from the faculty, my peers and all of the support staff who make my education possible. My education is a community effort led by selfless professionals with a passion to light up the minds of others so they too can accomplish extraordinary things everyday.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far?  

Without a doubt, the most valuable thing that I have learned thus far can be summed up by author Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, “You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own thinking than by hearing surprising facts from others.”

This could not be more true of my own learning experiences at NC State. I have learned the value of teachers assessing students’ misconceptions first and then designing inquiry-based lessons that arouse the curiosity of students to think deeply and authentically to reason through real-world problems.