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Passport to Success Scholars Honored at Culminating Ceremony

Passport to Success

The NC State College of Education’s Passport to Success scholars were honored for their accomplishments at the program’s culminating ceremony April 26.

Students who join the NC State College of Education’s Passport to Success program engage in learning experiences outside of the classroom to better prepare to make an impact once they enter their own classrooms as teachers.

Each Passport to Success scholar must engage in activities that fall into four separate categories — global knowledge, cross-cultural skills, community engagement and professional development. 

In advance of the ceremony, the students recorded presentations where they recapped the activities they completed, described lessons they learned and set out action plans they hope to pursue when they enter the classroom.

Learn about a few takeaways from each scholars’ experience, and watch their full presentations, below.

Catherine Dean ’23

For Catherine Dean, a junior elementary education major, Passport to Success was an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and expand her horizons by engaging in a variety of different activities. 

Dean attended a virtual panel led by women who worked in K-12 administration, served on the leadership team for the NC State chapter of Musical Empowerment, and volunteered weekly at the Mexico consulate in Raleigh, where she read with young students.

“I’m glad for the encouragement that the Passport program gave me to break my routine every now and then and pursue other interests outside of my specific major,” Dean said. “It also taught me to be a more well-rounded person, not just proficient in one area, but in many areas and, as a future teacher, I feel like that’s a very essential component to building an effective and inclusive classroom and even a challenging classroom.” 

Her experiences through Passport to Success also inspired her to lead a read-a-loud of the book My  Language,Your Language in the classroom during her field experience, in order to help her students gain global knowledge and broaden their horizons, too.

Elizabeth Stavrakakis ’23

Elizabeth Stavrakakis, a junior elementary education major,  said what she enjoyed most about Passport to Success was the mentoring support she received, from both her mentor, METRC Director Laura B. Fogle, and her peers in the program. 

She also enjoyed engaging in activities that helped her learn and grow, whether it was gaining leadership skills as president of the Elementary Education Organization (ELMO), or attending the professional growth unit (PGU) “It’s More Than Handshakes and High Fives: Building Relationships With Students of Color.”

Stavrakakis is looking forward to reading the book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, which was recommended to her by Jermaine Porter, director of equity and talent acquisition for the Alamance-Burlington School System, during that session.

“I want to strive to build a positive, culturally responsive classroom community throughout my career as a teacher,” she said.

To accomplish that, she plans to build a diverse, representative classroom library and put a priority on building relationships with her students and their families.

Anne Marie Mullis

Through her Passport to Success activities, Anne Marie Mullis, a senior English major with a concentration in teacher education, discovered the direction she wanted to take in her teaching career. While she enjoyed providing homework help through the Teaching a Tot program, it made her realize elementary education was not for her. Now, she plans to become a high school English teacher.

Mullis also enjoyed the way the program allowed her to engage in leadership roles, like serving on the Passport to Success leadership advisory board, and how it provided her with opportunities to interact with faculty and students she would not have been able to engage with otherwise. 

A highlight for Mullis was when she attended the Let’s Talk Racism conference, where she said she learned lessons about how she can best support all of her students. 

“We know them on a personal level,” Mullis said. “We can be aware of what our students need and be a voice for them if they are feeling silenced or if they don’t feel that they have the power to advocate for themselves.”

The lessons Mullis learned also inspired her to make time for free reading in her future classroom and to make sure students are able to select from a wide range of books.

Kailee Storie ’23

In Passport to Success, Kailee Storie, a junior elementary education major, said she learned how important the values of hard work, dedication and determination are to being a successful teacher.

The forums she attended as part of the program also instilled in her a passion for promoting equitable education wherever she has the power to do so.

“This program has just proven to me that I need to be the one making that change in my classroom,” Storie said. “If I can’t do it for the entire world, I at least need to do it in my classroom; I at least need to do it for the future of those who I impact.”

She is also determined to never stop researching and never stop learning, and wrote two poems– “Crayons” and “Misunderstood” – to express her commitment to making a difference through equitable education.

“I want to fight for change, and this program has given me a voice to do so,” Storie said.