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Tomorrow’s Learning Leaders – Looking Back Toward the Future

Parents are an important part of a student’s college experience! In this installment of our “Tomorrow’s Learning Leaders” series, we’re profiling the mother of one of our graduating seniors.

Michelle Cofield looks toward commencement with excitement about what the future holds for her daughter. Bria Cofield will receive her bachelor of science in elementary education at NC State’s commencement on Saturday, May 7.

We caught up with Cofield to get her thoughts on the College of Education and her soon-to-be graduate.

When you were looking at colleges with your daughter, what was at the top of your list of ‘must-haves’ in colleges?

That’s a tough question. Bria didn’t visit a number of colleges during the typical time students make those visits. Throughout the years she visited college campuses as a young child for a variety of reasons — homecoming activities, class field trips, and summer enrichment activities and camps. So I’d say we didn’t spend much time visiting colleges for the purpose of looking at them during the application process. Affordability and return on investment were the overarching concerns we had. Also at the top was whether she could envision herself in the environment — was there a support system, a large variety of student activities, and a campus community?

What was your reaction to your daughter choosing to attend NC State?

Let’s start with open house. We met (Assistant Dean for Student Engagement) Anona Smith-Williams after the College of Education’s presentation. We were very excited when Bria learned she was admitted. From that point, Smith-Williams and her staff began to pursue Bria as a student.

I felt like the College of Education worked to recruit her as a student. They brought her on campus for an overnight visit, and she received calls and email messages, etc. I recall Smith-Williams’ asking me where did Bria stand in her decision making when I dropped her off for the overnight visit. More than any other school, I felt that NC State worked to secure her decision.  

What have you seen as her most beneficial experiences in the College of Education?

Living and participating in the SAY Village was one of the best experiences for Bria. The living and learning environment was the launching pad for her development as a compassionate future teacher. She loved SAY Village so much that she applied and was selected to be an EA (education assistant) during her sophomore year. I believe that set the pace.

How do you think she has grown over her academic career?

From day one, the immersion into the College of Education’s physical space made a difference. She has had four years to be exposed to the culture of the academy and its practitioners. The support that she received from faculty and staff members were tops.

They encouraged her to travel abroad to explore other cultures and their education systems (Ecuador and the Dominican Republic) and to explore education systems in the United States (Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City). Traveling abroad to explore education systems and to volunteer in those environments contributed to her growth and development as a young woman.  

As a parent of a teacher, what advice would you give other parents who may be questioning this choice for their children who are considering education as profession?

I come from a family of educators, so I know what that life looks like — both of my parents taught school — my paternal grandmother, aunts and uncle taught school. For Bria, you can factor in that her aunt is an educator, as well. There wasn’t a lot of convincing that her dad and I needed to do. Teaching is a noble profession. Teachers have touched the lives of everyone!  

Learn more about elementary education and all our undergraduate programs.