N.C. Teaching Fellow Caroline Alexander ‘20 came to NC State to major in engineering, but soon discovered a passion for teaching. She shares why she changed majors and what she has learned during her time at the NDC State College of Education. This is edited for length and clarity.
Why did you choose education?
I was in my engineering classes and I felt like I couldn’t see myself pursuing that career and finding fulfillment in it. I knew that something had to change. I had spent a lot of time working with youth through summer camps and other experiences. The passion for working with young people and my desire to pursue something related to chemistry clicked into place.
Why did you choose science education?
I knew going to college that I wanted to pursue something related to chemistry. Working in science education will allow me to share my passion for chemistry, to work with students and to be someone that they feel believes in them. I want to be an advocate for them, to help them understand that they can do science and it’s not this big, intimidating concept. This is what I am called to do.
Why did you apply to be an N.C. Teaching Fellow?
My mom was a Teaching Fellow. When we heard the program was coming back, she told me about some of the experiences and enrichment opportunities she had through the program and encouraged me to apply. Plus, the scholarship was a huge incentive. I applied, interviewed and was delighted to find out I was accepted into the program.
What have you learned from your experiences so far as a Teaching Fellow at NC State?
The NC State College of Education has completely reshaped what I believe a teacher should look like and what a classroom should look like. Through my classes here, especially educational psychology and my methods courses, I’ve been able to understand more about how we learn and how I can use that to shape my classroom culture so that it can best benefit students.
I think my professors have truly shown me what it feels like to have someone who believes in you. They’re really modeling best practices in their classrooms and showing me what it means to be an effective educator, to lead students through example. They’re all thinking and doing the extraordinary.
What do you want your future students to learn from you?
One of my big goals in my future classroom is to increase scientific literacy in my students. I understand that not every student wants to pursue a degree related to science, not every student is going to go on to college, but I want all of my students to have the skills to be able to analyze and interpret data and to look at a news report and think critically about if it makes sense scientifically. I want them to recognize they are capable of being scientists, even if it’s not in a lab or a classroom.