Sarah Brown ‘21 had no doubt that she wanted to pursue a career in the sciences. Her father was a research scientist and instilled a love for science in her at an early age. When she arrived at NC State, she chose to major in molecular biology.
Brown wanted to go into research and eventually pursue a doctorate degree, but she quickly realized that a molecular biology degree had limited career paths. She didn’t want to attend medical school or vet school, and every lab course she took made research less appealing.
“What I did enjoy about my [major] was helping my peers understand the information we were learning,” Brown said. “I realized a degree in science education would allow me to combine all my passions and chase a career that I would truly enjoy.”
Brown changed her major with hopes of becoming a high school biology teacher. And the NC State College of Education helped her discover a deeper passion for special education. During her Intro to Teaching in Today’s Schools class, she was able to work with students with special needs.
“I learned a lot about IEPs [Individualized Education Programs] from my participating teachers, which I think will be useful when I become a teacher,” she said. “I also learned a lot about helping students who do not want your help. I had to try many different approaches to engage with certain students successfully.”
As a sophomore, Brown was placed at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School in a curriculum assistance class with around five to six students. She was able to work with students of varying special needs and skill levels and had the opportunity to work with students in varying subject areas.
“For the past five years, I have worked closely with special needs children and it is one of the things that inspired me to become a teacher,” Brown said. “I would love to consider training in [curriculum assessment] or something that will allow me to work with special needs students again in the future.”
Not only did Brown discover a deeper passion for special education through her field experiences but it reinforced that education was the right career for her.
“I think it was fantastic to have a field experience during my sophomore year. For me, it confirmed that I was in the right major,” she said.
And through the NC State College of Education, Brown is preparing to be the best educator possible and she is learning the skills necessary to be a successful teacher.
“NC State has prepared me for an education career through rigorous coursework, valuable field experiences and leadership opportunities,” Brown said. “My field experiences have exposed me to real life situations that I would not have been able to encounter in an education course.”
Brown plans to work in a North Carolina public high school before returning to the NC State College of Education to receive a master’s degree in special education.
“I want to be able to change the lives of my students by either passing on my passion for science or helping them find whatever path suits them,” she said. “There is nothing more fulfilling than watching a student finally understand a difficult concept. I live for those a-ha moments, and I hope to create them as much as possible in my classroom.