Teaching Fellow and Former LIFT Participant Maia Grace Solomon ’25 Named to Caldwell Fellows Class of 2025
Maia Grace Solomon ’25, a mathematics education major in NC State’s College of Education, submitted a written application, participated in a semifinalist interview phase and then completed a day-long set of finalist interviews as part of the intensive selection process for the Caldwell Fellows, NC State’s premier leadership development program.
The day Solomon would learn whether or not she would be a Caldwell Fellow, she was nervous. Every time she received an email notification, she wondered if it was the announcement. It was when she was in Starbucks, taking a history class virtually on Zoom, that she saw an email pop up on her Mac that said, “Congratulations.”
“I had to leave the Starbucks because I didn’t want to be all loud,” Solomon said. “It was a great moment. The whole day I was very anxious but just getting that email was really exciting.”
Solomon was excited to have been selected from a pool of more than 150 first-year applicants as one of 28 who now make up the Caldwell Fellows class of 2025. The cohort includes students from 10 North Carolina counties, seven U.S. states and the countries of Belgium, India and Venezuela. The fellowship comes with a scholarship as well as experiential learning stipends. Candidates like Solomon are selected for their “aptitude for servant leadership development.”
“For most of my life, I’ve known leadership to be something like standing on a pedestal and delegating tasks, but servant leadership is definitely the opposite of that,” Solomon said. “It’s being on the same level as everyone and helping everyone to complete the task that we’re on. So you’re leading people, but you’re also putting in the work and helping everyone reach a common goal.”
Solomon has long had an interest in leadership. In high school, she attended the NC State College of Education’s Leadership Institute for Future Teachers (LIFT), which is a program designed for high school students of color and bilingual students interested in exploring careers in education.
In that program, Solomon was inspired by the opportunities she had to build relationships with other students like her who wanted to be educators and impressed by what the NC State College of Education had to offer.
“They really brought together a program that showed me how amazing the College of Education is and all the opportunities that come with being a part of the College of Education,” Solomon said.
Through LIFT, Solomon also discovered the Teaching Fellows program. After being accepted as a Teaching Fellow, Solomon’s decision to attend NC State was cemented when she also received a Dean’s Excellence scholarship.
“That was a really big factor for me,” Solomon said. “Also, I just had really good interactions with the people in the College of Education.”
Growth is a priority for Solomon, and through the Caldwell Fellows and her experiences as a student in the NC State College of Education, Solomon hopes to grow into the teacher she wishes she had growing up.
“My educational journey was a great one, but it wasn’t as diverse as I would have liked it to have been,” Solomon said. “So I definitely thought that being a teacher of color and also being a woman would just bring a little bit more representation and diversity to the field of education.”
Solomon plans to be a middle school math teacher, and she hopes she’ll be able to use her skills to make learning math an enjoyable experience.
“I just want to be able to bring some fun elements to math and find creative ways to help students enjoy math,” Solomon said.
As Solomon prepares to one day step into the classroom, she is excited for the opportunities for growth she will receive as a Caldwell Fellow.
“Being a Caldwell Fellow for me means being able to grow and become a better leader, but also to be a better person in general and be more authentic in myself,” Solomon said.