For Frederique Yova ‘21PHD, education was always a passion but not her career.
Working in the area of research, she always knew that at some point she wanted to combine her interests in both research and public education.
Earning a doctorate from the NC State College of Education is the first step on that journey.
Yova, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences in the program area of study in elementary education in mathematics and science, is a graduate research assistant and hopes to work in academia as a mathematics education professor upon graduation.
“Mathematics is a gatekeeper in the U.S.,” she said. “Providing meaningful opportunities to explore mathematics at an early age would help children to not only build up a foundation in mathematics, but also their attitudes and confidence towards mathematics.”
With hopes of becoming a professor within a college of education, where she can work closely with public schools and communities, Yova has been accepted into the NC State University Graduate School’s Preparing the Professoriate (PTP) program, a program designed for scholars who wish to pursue a career in academia.
“I have prepared for my post-doctorate years as much as I could on my own, through readings, internet searches and discussions with faculty, but joining a supportive cohort of fellows and faculty will guide me toward the next step of my journey,” Yova said. “I look forward to embracing all the components of the PTP program – workshops, mentorship and discussions with other fellows.”
As a PTP fellow, Yova will attend workshops and build a mentorship relationship with her advisor Temple Walkowiak, Ph.D., an associate professor of mathematics education in the NC State College of Education.
“I appreciate that the program unfolds over several months, with the opportunity to participate in workshops and discussions with other fellows,” she said. “I know that I will learn immensely from my PTP mentor, Dr. Walkowiak.”
Yova’s current research is around exploring early mathematics through picture books and understanding the phenomenon through the lens of Head Start participants, including teachers, parents and children. She values the Head Start model, she says, and how it focuses on supporting children, but also their families. “I believe we can all learn a lot from the Head Start model,” she said.
Yova has always loved math. Her passion for math developed in middle school when she had a teacher who taught in a way that always made math make sense to her. And that sparked an interest in mathematics education. When Yova reached high school, she started losing interest and confidence in mathematics. It wasn’t until her master’s program that she fell in love with the field again.
“As an M.Ed. student in mathematics elementary education, I re-discovered mathematics — especially around fractions,” she said. “I want every child (and their parents) to approach mathematics in a meaningful way.”
Preparing the Professoriate (PTP), established in 1993, is a nationally recognized program designed to give exceptional doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars an immersive mentoring, teaching and future faculty preparation experience. It is a signature program within the NC State Graduate School’s professional development initiative.
The PTP experience, Yova says, will help her develop and organize her portfolio. And it will help her gain confidence in teaching to a large group of people.
The PTP program is open to doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars who plan to pursue careers as faculty members at colleges and universities. Up to 30 fellows are selected annually for the one-year program. Acceptance is highly competitive.
“I come from a family of educators,” Yova said. “I believe in public education and I hope to contribute to more equitable access to all.”