Walking Out My Dream: A Day with NC State’s College of Education
Editor’s note: Karina Lozano-Serrano, a junior in high school and a prospective first-generation college student, recently visited NC State’s College of Education to observe a class; meet with faculty, staff, and students; and learn more about the teaching profession. She wrote this reflection after her visit. Published with permission.
I’ve always known since I was little that I wanted to go to NC State University. Honestly I’m not so sure why I was so convinced of this when I was in fourth grade, but as I grew older and learned more about the school, I knew this was my dream school. And just like I knew this was my dream school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.
I have always been drawn to the feeling of being in a classroom and making learning fun. Looking back at my worksheets from kindergarten and second-grade career days, I see I was always made to be a teacher. Many teachers helped develop my passion for teaching, and the most influential teacher of all was my sixth-grade math teacher. She was the very first school teacher in which I saw myself – a woman of color who loved math. Seeing her connect with other students of color as well as the way she directed her lessons made me feel so welcomed. Math was a subject I was good at but grew to absolutely love after I took her class in sixth grade. This teacher and the classroom experience she created affirmed my desire to be a math teacher and to create a classroom culture that others felt a sense of belonging and excitement to learn.
Since then, I have been walking out steps to pursue an educational career by taking higher level math classes, tutoring, participating in math clubs and engaging in opportunities that help me be a teacher that is focused on the whole student, such as becoming QPR certified (suicide prevention) and presenting research and activities focused on student identity, belonging and wellbeing at the National American Public Health Conference for the last two years.
I will continue to work on walking out my dream and helping others feel the way the NC State College of Education made me feel during my visit.
As a 16-year-old Latina from Clayton, I was so excited and nervous when I was offered the chance [through The Resiliency Collaborative] to visit NC State’s College of Education to learn about their Teaching Fellows program. As soon as I arrived, I was able to meet three Teaching Fellow students and learn how they got into the program as well as learn more about their majors and passions. It was so exciting to see the different people who are engaged in the program and how the program offers so much support and encouragement to those hoping to further their careers in education.
Based on the narratives I’ve heard about the university, I was expecting to enter a lecture style room with hundreds of students listening to a professor reading their lesson plans or presenting a PowerPoint. On the contrary, I walked into a class of about eight students. This was the third class of the semester; yet it felt so amiable. All the students were engaged in an open discussion followed by a demonstration and a numbers talk. As a prospective first-generation college student, I was grateful for the opportunity to just be in the classroom to observe. To my surprise and enjoyment, I was included in all the activities — which truly made me feel like I was a part of the Wolfpack!
As a high school junior and prospective first-generation college student, I definitely felt all different levels of nervousness and excitement to visit NC State. However, [Teaching Fellows at NC State Director] Crystal Espey and the Teaching Fellows students made me feel like I had a support system available – even as an ordinary high school student! The entire day felt surreal to me as I went through the class lesson, learned about the Teaching Fellows program, and talked about scholarships. The people and the experiences this day provided solidified that I can’t wait to return in the fall of 2025 as an NC State student and Teaching Fellow! In the meantime, I will continue to work on walking out my dream and helping others feel the way the NC State College of Education made me feel during my visit. — Karina Lozano-Serrano