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Meet Our Incoming Students: Three of Our Newest Transformational Scholars

Meet our Transformational Scholars

This is part of a “Meet Our Incoming Students” series in which the College of Education will introduce some of its first-year, transfer and graduate students who will join us this fall.

This fall, 20 students will join the second cohort of the NC State College of Education’s Transformational Scholarships Program, which provides scholarships totaling $40,000 over four years to promising high school students from Eastern North Carolina who will return to the region to teach after graduating from the college. The program was made possible due to a generous charitable grant from the Anonymous Trust.

Meet three of the Transformational Scholars who will join NC State’s College of Education this fall:

Carter Clever

Selma, North Carolina

Technology, Engineering and Design Education

Hobbies and Interests: Arts and crafts, puzzles and volunteering

Why did you choose NC State University and the NC State College of Education? 

I chose NC State because, when I was in high school, I heard that it had one of the best educational programs. When I was looking into what different colleges offered, I learned that it had a major that was precisely what I was looking for.

What inspired you to become a teacher and choose education? 

I was inspired to become a teacher because my mom worked as a middle school teacher since before I was born, which meant I grew up surrounded by strong educators my whole life. These educators helped to inspire a love of education and helping others. My love for education was further fostered by my experience as a Johnston County Teaching Educators And Coming Home (JoCo TEACH) student, which taught me about education and allowed me to observe different classrooms.

Why did you choose your major? 

I chose technology, engineering and design education because I have always been interested in learning how things work and how they are assembled. When I was in high school, a friend told me about a fun class they had taken where they learned about engineering and CAD, and they thought I would enjoy it too. Until then, being an engineering teacher had never crossed my mind, so this piqued my interest. I started taking engineering classes and looked at the program’s various curriculums, which ultimately made me decide to become an engineering teacher.

What does it mean to you to be named a Transformational Scholar?

Being named a Transformational Scholar means that all that I have worked for and accomplished has been rewarded. It means I have a unique opportunity to participate in valuable activities to better prepare me to become an impactful educator.

How will receiving this scholarship impact your student experience? 

Receiving this scholarship will have an immensely powerful impact on my student experience as it allows me to be able to focus all of my attention on my studies, as I do not have to worry about my finances. Having less stress will also make it easier for me to form relationships with my peers and make lasting connections.

What are you most looking forward to about this year?

I am most looking forward to being able to attend my classes and meet my new group of peers.

Dariana De Leon

Tarboro, North Carolina

Mathematics Education 

Hobbies and Interests: I like being outside, skateboarding and journaling. 

Why did you choose NC State University and the NC State College of Education?

One of the main reasons I chose to pursue an education degree at NC State is because I attended the Leadership Institute for Future Teachers (LIFT) at NC State in 2021. This program allowed me to learn about the education program at NC State. Through LIFT, I was able to walk on the campus, engage in an academic program with other future teachers of color and fall in love with NC State. I loved how during my stay all the staff and mentors made sure I felt comfortable and challenged me when needed. They made sure to point out our differences and how that makes every single student special. I love the environment and how many possibilities NC State has to offer. 

What inspired you to become a teacher and choose education?

I am a Latina student who has never had a Latinx math teacher, so why would I consider that career path for myself? In 11th grade, I learned about a grow-our-own teacher program at my school called Scholar Teachers. I began to consider teaching as a possible career, and I decided to become the role model that I never had growing up. Latinx students are the fastest growing population in our state, but Latinx teachers are the slowest growing teacher population. I want to change that. I want to be part of diversifying our teacher pipeline. I want little Latina girls who love math to see me as their teacher and aspire to be like me. 

Why did you choose your major?

There is a quote: “Teaching is not a profession; it’s a passion.” It is my passion. I want to teach middle school mathematics because many children struggle in mathematics and need great teachers to help them discover their confidence. Mathematics feels like home – numbers, equations and formulas all come naturally to me. When I become a teacher, my goal is to empower students in their academics and character. My classroom will be like home to my scholars and I will provide positive affirmations to children to gather confidence and challenge themselves to be their very best. 

What does it mean to you to be named a Transformational Scholar?

Being able to be a part of the second cohort of Transformational Scholars is a great honor. I will be able to be in a community that shares my interests and dreams, who are committed to NC State University’s motto: “Think and Do.” I love how the whole idea of being a Transformational Scholar involves giving back to the community. I will be a part of innovation and change. I can’t wait to start on my education journey as a future educator. 

How will receiving this scholarship impact your student experience?

I am a first-generation, Mexican American student who not only struggled with understanding the English language but persevered so that I could become a future Latina middle school math teacher. Growing up, I did not see many Latinx educators in school and strive to change that.

Going to college not only helps me learn about the subject I wish to teach, but it allows me to have networking connections. It will further my knowledge and give me more opportunities to learn how I could improve my teaching style, so that I can better teach and educate students. 

I have seen countless seniors in high school who struggled with choosing a career path. I stumbled upon education when I was given a chance to explore the career through a local program in my high school called Scholar Teacher. This program allowed me to explore my dream of wanting to become an educator. Going to college allows me to solidify and reinforce my dream of wanting to become a teacher. 

Receiving this scholarship not only supports my goal of becoming a Latina educator, but it allows me to take advantage of more opportunities, because I do not have to worry about how my education would be funded. I can focus on my academics and on my educational journey as a future teacher.

What are you most looking forward to about this year?

I am looking forward to learning and observing great educators. I look forward to working with other peers who also are passionate about teaching. I am so excited and can’t wait to start on my educational journey this fall!

Mary Ledford

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Middle Grades English Language Arts and Social Studies Education

Hobbies and Interests: Sewing, music and spending time with friends. 

Why did you choose NC State University and the NC State College of Education?

I chose NC State because of the opportunities it presented me — the opportunity to volunteer in the local community with Students Advocating for Youth (SAY) Village, the opportunity to serve as a senator for the College of Education within student government and the opportunity to have financial assistance. 

What inspired you to become a teacher and choose education? 

I was inspired to choose education because, in high school, I was heavily involved with the North Carolina Association of Student Councils, which gave me the chance to teach skill shops and lead students, as well as get to mentor under amazing educators. I found a lot of fulfillment in the task of teaching skill shops and wanted to be a mentor to other students like those educators were for me. 

Why did you choose your major?

I chose to major in middle grades English language arts and social studies education simply because I think it’s the most fun. I’ve been a camp counselor many times and my favorite age group has been middle schoolers. They have a lot of unbridled excitement for just about everything. English and social studies have always been my strong suit and have also been a personal and academic interest. 

What does it mean to you to be named a Transformational Scholar?

Being named a Transformational Scholar means freedom and community. It gives me a support system not only to lean on but to keep me accountable within my studies, without my attention being pulled away because of financial struggles. 

How will receiving this scholarship impact your student experience?

Having the financial concern of attending college taken away gives me the chance to be more involved in avenues that interest me, such as student government, community service and campus life, without worrying about finances. I will not only be a better student but also a better community member. 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I look forward to making friends, exploring all of the amazing opportunities that made me decide to choose NC State back in May and finding my passion amongst the hundreds of events and clubs offered at NC State.