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College of Education Students Prepare for Future Careers Through Summer Internship Opportunities

College of Education student Kailey Rea works with students during a summer internship

Undergraduate and graduate students in the NC State College of Education had opportunities to engage in internships in North Carolina and across the country this summer. 

From working with K-12 students in summer camps and summer schools to working with students and staff at other universities, College of Education students developed relationships, expanded their skills and put lessons learned through coursework into practice.

Read a selection of their stories below: 

Alora Wilson ’23 Puts Lessons Learned in Coursework into Action Through College of Education Summer Internship Program

NC State College of Education student Alora Wilson was selected as a participant of the College of Education Summer Internship Program

Alora Wilson ’23 was able to gain teaching experience in her hometown this summer thanks to an internship created to honor a former NC State College of Education student. 

Wilson was one of two undergraduate students selected this year for the College of Education Summer Internship Program, which is supported by gifts to the College of Education Excellence Fund in memory of Chantal Warfield, a 2019 graduate of the college who was killed in a car crash. 

“I felt proud that I was selected to represent both the College of Education and the university, both of which I hold close to my heart. I also felt proud to carry on the memory of Chantel Warfield in service to my community,” Wilson said. 

Interns selected for the program receive financial support to serve at organizations that support education in high-needs communities. Wilson was able to spend several weeks interning at Mitchell High School in Mitchell County, where she grew up. 

She was excited for the opportunity to gain teaching experience in Mitchell County, as she plans to return there to teach after graduation to give back to the community that has supported her throughout her life. 

During her internship, she spent two hours, three days per week, working with three students who were pursuing credit recovery. She was able to watch students make significant growth and receive their course credits and experienced the joy of building relationships with students, encouraging one to open up to her during sessions. 

“This internship gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet in both planning and teaching before I student teach in the spring. I was able to try some techniques I learned in my methods courses, test educational tools and gain confidence to be a teacher of young adults,” she said. 

Wilson, a secondary mathematics education major, said her experiences and the support she has received in the College of Education are also preparing her to be an effective educator. Three courses, she said, including “Teaching Exceptional Students in the Mainstream Classroom,” taught by Assistant Teaching Professor Jordan Lukins, “Teaching Mathematics Topics in Senior High School,” taught by Research Associate Emily Thrasher, and “Teaching Mathematics with Technology,” taught by Assistant Professor Ruby Ellis, have been particularly impactful.   

“I took the technology course during my internship this summer and I would often turn around and use the technological tools I was learning about to engage the students I was working with,” Wilson said. “The College of Education feels like a close-knit community with all the resources of a large university and the faculty and staff are truly interested in and committed to the wellbeing of the students.”

Teaching Fellow Layla Allen Reaffirms Desire to Teach in North Carolina Through Work with Orange County Schools

NC State College of Education undergraduate student Layla Allen interned in Orange County schools in the summer of 2022.

Layla Allen won’t graduate from the College of Education with her bachelor’s degree in secondary science education until 2023, but she already feels like she has been accepted into Orange County School District as an educator.

During the Spring 2022 semester, Allen, who is part of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, learned about an open, part-time position in the district for an English as a second language (ELS) tutor through her advisor for her teaching English as a foreign language minor. Through this experience, she worked with seventh grade students in the classroom three times per week, helping emerging bilingual students with classwork or helping them improve their English speaking and comprehension skills.

When that program concluded at the end of the 2021-22 school year, Allen was invited back to work as a teaching assistant for the district’s summer school session.

“I felt like I had really been accepted into the school system and I felt like people saw my value as an educator,” she said. “As a pre-service teacher working in a school with a lot of experienced teachers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with impostor syndrome. Seeing the growth my students made and being asked to work over the summer really helped validate my contributions.”

As a teaching assistant, Allen worked in an English language arts class for rising sixth graders. Her duties largely focused on helping students with their classwork and teaching them how to use technology like Gmail and Google Docs, which they did not work with in elementary school.

Both teaching experiences, Allen said, have helped her realize the rewards of teaching and prepare to navigate some of the challenges of running a classroom, such as managing the limited time educators have to create impactful lessons.

“I think the experiences I’ve had as a tutor and as a teaching assistant have both just helped me realize the reality of being in the classroom as a teacher. In our classes at NC State, it’s easy to talk about methods we can use to make our classes better for our students, but the reality is that there are a lot of outside forces that work as an obstacle for making education more student-centered,” she said.

Her experiences working with the Orange County School District over the past few months have also solidified Allen’s desire to stay in her home state of North Carolina to teach after graduation. She believes that her professors and peers in the College of Education, along with the Teaching Fellows program, have helped her gain the knowledge she needs to be an effective educator.

“I want other people to fall in love with learning and getting to know the world around them, so I think that’s one of the main reasons why I chose to be a teacher,” she said. “I want to stay in North Carolina for a while because this is where I grew up and I want to give back to my own state because I have been privileged enough to be able to receive a high-quality education and preparation through NC State.”

Summer Internship, NC State Experiences Prepare Ryan Velazquez ’23MED for Career in Higher Education Administration 

NC State College of Education graduate student Ryan Velazquez interned at the University of Florida in the summer of 2022.

Graduate student Ryan Velazquez ’23MED says it is important for people to go outside their comfort zones whenever possible in order to learn.

When offered a chance to serve as a graduate intern for the Student Activities and Involvement office at the University of Florida this summer, Velazquez seized the opportunity despite having never worked in student activities in the past. 

“Being able to immerse myself in a new office environment allowed me to grow professionally and learn so much about this field through valuable conversations and experiences,” she said. “Bringing together what I’ve done in the past with what I was learning at the University of Florida allowed me to compare and contrast certain aspects of student affairs and gave me a well-rounded view of student engagement. I was able to reflect on my career goals and truly evaluate the way I think about the work I do.” 

During her 10-week internship, Velazquez, who is earning her master’s degree in higher education administration, helped to plan and execute 26 student engagement fairs for more than 3,600 incoming freshman and transfer students and their families to meet with on-campus student organizations during their orientation. She also helped to plan the university’s Great Gator Welcome Week for summer students, attended Student Government Senate meetings, assisted with the university’s GatorNights late night program and sat in on interviews for program coordinator positions. 

“I enjoyed watching University of Florida students interact with student organizations and the student engagement fairs each week, creating valuable connections that will shape their college experience. That’s why we do the work we do,” Valazquez said. 

It was connections like those she helped foster during her internship that encouraged Velazquez to enroll in the College of Education for her own master’s degree. She connected with Assistant Teaching Professor Krispin Barr and Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Alyssa Rockenbach prior to enrolling because her research interests overlapped with theirs and said that their support and conversations with current students helped her know that the College of Education was the right fit.  

During her two years as a student, Valazquez has taken advantage of many opportunities to get involved at NC State. Since her focus in higher education is in student-athlete development, she works as a mentor in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes and holds a position as the student-athlete engagement and leadership assistant for the university’s athletic department.  She is also a graduate assistant for the Engineering Village within Residential Learning for University Housing, a member of the hospitality committee for the annual Preview the Pack event and a volunteer career identity coach in the Career Development Center. 

During the upcoming Fall 2022 semester, she will serve as the president of the Higher Education Association for master’s students, chapter resident director for Pi Beta Phi and as an intern at the Career Development Center’s employer relations team.“Everything I am involved in has shaped me into a well-rounded professional and I’m so excited for the opportunities that await,” she said.

Teaching Fellow Kailey Rea ’23 Creates Safe Space for Students During Summer Camp Experience 

NC State College of Education undergraduate student Kailey Rea with students in the SATELLITE camp.

Kailey Rea ’23 chose the NC State College of Education because of its reputation for producing STEM educators and because, when she visited, it felt like family. 

This summer, she had the opportunity to use her skills as a STEM educator and help younger students find a family feel through her internship at the Science and Technology Enriching Lifelong Leadership in Tomorrow’s Endeavors (SATELLITE) camp. 

“This experience has given me the opportunity to work with students in a different light,” Rea said. “I have experienced tutoring and observing in classrooms, but I have never been a counselor for students in a summer camp. Many students came in knowing nobody and left with a huge community.” 

SATELLITE is a five-day summer camp experience for high school sophomores in rural North Carolina counties that provides exposure to educational and career opportunities through NC State. Although counselor positions are typically reserved for students in NC State’s Caldwell Fellows program, the camp needed extra staff this summer and Rea was invited to apply. 

Through her role at the camp. She led a group of six students, providing support, advice and educational resources. 

Although the experience was only five days long, Rea said she and her students bonded quickly, particularly over a shared love of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” from which they performed a song during a camp talent show. 

One of her favorite experiences, however, was watching students come out of their shells, make new friends and feel as though they could be their authentic selves while under her supervision.

“This is what draws me to be a teacher; to create a safe space where students feel like they can be themselves,” she said. “It was awesome to experience this as a future teacher and also to see college students who are pursuing other majors experience being this figure for a younger person.” 

Rea, a Teaching Fellow and middle grades mathematics education major with a dual license in science education, said she knows what it feels like to be supported by educators. 

During one of her first visits to the College of Education, she recalls a faculty member telling her, “come in, this is your home” and she believes that sentiment has remained true during her three years as an undergraduate student. 

“I have so many support systems and people I can come to for help. I know they want the absolute best for me and my peers,” she said. “I know what kind of impact teachers can have; I have experienced this as a student and as a future educator. The students are what ultimately draw me to education and I hope to learn as much from them as they learn from me.”

Jaylah Stewart ’23MED Learns to Connect with Students Through Internship at Harvard Pre-College Program

NC State College of Education graduate student Jaylah Stewart ’23MED was able to gain new tools and perspectives to use in her career in higher education through an internship this summer as a residence director with the Harvard Pre-College Program. 

Stewart, who is earning her master’s degree in higher education administration, worked with students who are preparing to attend college next year, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment through the supervision of programs for the group. She was also responsible for ensuring the students followed program guidelines and communicating with parents to answer any questions they had. 

“This internship gave me further insight on how to connect with these students, figure out my disciplinary philosophy and challenge myself to adapt to a new student group,” Stewart said. “It gave me an opportunity to develop more as a supervisor and a leader. The supervising skills that I have gained through this experience will come in handy as I step back into my position at NC State and continue to work with student leaders and supervise them.” 

Learning to work with different student groups and students with different identities has been one of Stewart’s favorite experiences not only of her internship, but of the higher education administration program overall. 

One of her favorite classes within the program was “Student Development Theory,” which she said provided insight into different developmental stages students go through and how educators can aid them in further developing and finding their identities. 

She has also enjoyed learning from and collaborating with her peers in the program, particularly when discussing topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion and how to incorporate them into their future careers. 

“As I began learning more about NC State’s program and comparing it to other programs, I realized that NC State was the best fit for me and that I was truly going to be challenged and grow as a student affairs professional,” she said. “The higher education administration program is very special. The support and resources that I was provided through this program is how I was led to my summer internship opportunity. I am forever thankful for my amazing supervisors, professors and my peers for their continuous support through this journey.”