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Tomorrow’s Learning Leaders – Forging a New Path

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The next installment in our “Tomorrow’s Learning Leaders” series focuses on one of our outstanding science education graduates. Courtney Like-Matthews came to NC State in 2012 to follow in the footsteps of her older sister, and has since forged her own path to success.

Like-Matthews graduated May 7 with a bachelor of science in secondary science education with a concentration in chemistry. We talked to Like-Matthews about her time on campus and how the College of Education shaped her NC State experience.

Why did you choose to come to NC State? When did you begin your studies?

I chose to come to NC State because I wanted to be where the weather is warmer, the people are nicer and the tea is sweeter! My older sister came to NC State for college so I already knew how wonderful the area was. I began studying at NC State in August 2012!

What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome during your time here?

The greatest challenge I had to overcome at NC State was passing physics. Put me in a 400-level chemistry class and I will get an A+, but introductory physics was the hardest class I have ever taken. I still have nightmares about calculating the resistance in circuits!

What has been your best NC State memory?

My favorite memory at NC State was joining the club swimming team. All of the people I love the most have come from that team and we do so much fun stuff in and out of the water together! Before they did renovations on the gym, we used to all go into the sauna after practice on Thursdays. It was hilarious because there would be 30 swimmers squeezed in there in Speedos and swimsuits!

What do you plan to do after graduation?

After graduation, I will be coaching a local summer swim team and spending most of my time outside in the sunshine! In August, I will be starting my first full-time job teaching high school science here in Wake County! I hope to be teaching chemistry, forensics and earth science.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the College of Education?

I’ve learned how important it is to create as much positive interaction with students, peers, parents and principals as possible. This positive interaction forms trusting relationships within the classroom. Good teaching is not getting your already high-achieving students to do well — it’s motivating those kids who have always struggled in school. The connections you make with these kids are crucial in helping them succeed!

Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has greatly influenced your education?

Mary Louise Bellamy was my professor for some of my introductory and advanced science education classes. She is one of the kindest and most knowledgeable professors I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Every student in her class always had a huge smile on their faces and “Dr. B” always warmed our hearts with stories from her past teaching experiences. When we found out she was retiring, our class got together and planned her a surprise retirement party on our last day of class. We still keep in touch today and I know I am a better teacher because of her guidance!

How do you think the College of Education has prepared you for a career after graduation?

The College of Education does a great job of preparing us for our careers due to the diversity of professional development classes we are given the opportunity to take. I learned how to teach geometry to kids using Angry Birds in one of these workshops! This professional development, as well as our full year of student teaching, shows us firsthand what it’s like to be a beginning teacher before we actually graduate.

What advice would you give students considering pursuing a degree in education?

If you are planning on majoring in education, never let yourself sleep in on the weekdays. Throughout college I signed up for an 8 a.m. class every semester so that I would stay a morning person. Teaching is so much fun and it’s a very rewarding career, but you do have to wake up every day around 6 a.m.! I promise you that many of your kids will be grumpy that early in the morning, but if you have a smile on your face, your kids warm up too.

Do you have any additional thoughts on graduating?

I came to NC State from out of state, not knowing anyone but my sister who graduated six years before me! I now have friends graduating with degrees in education, but I also have friends who studied engineering, animal science, architecture and even meteorology. I thank NC State for giving me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people I now call my best friends!