Brenda Rios ‘23 had doubts about majoring in education and intended on changing her major when she arrived at NC State. After taking ED 100: Introduction to 21st Century Education, Rios knew she found where she belonged — a place where she could make an impact.
“ED 100 had the biggest impact on my career because it made me realize I truly wanted to become an educator. I learned many things about the education systems across the country, the impact of being an educator as well as the history of education,” she said. “Taking this course was the best thing that has ever happened to me in regard to my career.”
Rios chose to major in elementary education because of her experiences as a young child. The lack of support she received in many areas of her life and feelings of unmotivation have inspired her to be an educator who serves as a support system for elementary students.
Rios, who is of Mexican origin, knows that elementary school teachers who are Hispanic are rare, but she wants to change the norm by inspiring other Hispanics and people of color to become educators. She wants to be an advocate for students with similar backgrounds. And she’s able to do that as the recipient of the Suzanne Montague Ridgill Memorial Scholarship.
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“As someone who grew up in a very low-income household, financial support is the only thing that I am still afraid of lacking throughout my college experience. This scholarship relieved my stress in terms of knowing I had extra help during this difficult time,” Rios said. “Receiving this scholarship makes me feel supported by the community, as I am aware there are individuals who care about the future of my education.”
Rios says the scholarship helps by bringing her one step closer to becoming an educator. And it’s motivated her to continue to go after her dream. Because of this scholarship, Rios can work toward becoming an educator in rural North Carolina, where they have the most need.
From August 2020 to January 2021, Rios served as a full-time teacher assistant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Through that experience, Rios says, she learned and experienced some of the best teaching moments of her life. She also offered tutoring services to students who needed it, which helped solidify her career choice of being an educator.
“I chose education because I want to advocate for elementary education students. There are many labels for educators which can vary from accurate to non-supportive,” she said. “I want to be a strong educator who not only teaches but prepares students for the real world. I feel I have the ability and motivation to become a teacher for generations to come.”
When she graduates in 2023, Rios plans to enter the classroom and start her teaching career before working toward a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from NC State. Her goal, she says, is to be an effective teacher by being a clinical counselor in an effort to learn more about her elementary students and how she can facilitate their experiences in school.