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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘My Teachers Had a Big Impact on Me, and I Wanted to be That Person for Other Students,’ Says Meghan Larson

Meghan Larson’s experience as a K-12 student was not an easy one. 

After missing two months of middle school when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern North Carolina in 2016, she missed three months of her freshman year when Hurricane Florence caused her high school’s ceiling to collapse and spent most of the next few years in remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Instead of dissuading her from a career in education, those challenges made Larson more determined to give students the opportunities she missed. 

“My teachers had a big impact on me, and I wanted to be that person for other students,” said Larson, a middle grades English language arts and social studies education major. “[Those experiences] were so bad, and they were so draining mentally for a teenager, but I also knew students across the entire country were also going the same thing as I was, and every time I thought about doing something else, I was just always pulled back into education because that’s what I loved.”

Although Larson took many of her classes online, she said she was inspired by the way her teachers still took the time to get to know her on a personal level, to ask her about her goals and provide support. She also received assistance from her college advisor, who told her about the NC State College of Education’s Transformational Scholarships Program, which provides scholarships totaling $40,000 over four years to promising students from eastern North Carolina who will return to the region to teach after graduating.

During her interview for the program, she talked about the challenges her town faced, but also about how she wanted to go back and make a difference.

“That’s an interview I remember to this day,” Larson said. “I remember every detail of it; it made me feel like an adult for the first time and made me feel like I was on the right path.”

As a Transformational Scholar, Larson has appreciated the support she has received from Transformational Scholarships Program Director Trisha Mackey, as well as the opportunities she has received to go on school visits across eastern North Carolina, network with NC State’s Educational Leadership Academy mentors and even meet with North Carolina legislators. 

“I’ve gotten a lot of chances to showcase where I’m from and my passions,” Larson said.

At the beginning of this academic year, Larson was elected president of the college’s Educational Council, which oversees all student organizations in the college. Their mission this year is to be the current leaders for future teachers. 

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why I Chose Education: 

When I was at my pre-K graduation — I was like four years old — they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up when we walked across the stage in our little cap and gowns. In the microphone, I said, I wanted to be a “pincipal” because I was scared. I said principal wrong. I’ve known since I was four that I wanted to be a teacher, and then I wanted to be in administration. 

I’m probably going to teach sixth grade or ninth grade English when I graduate, and then after that get my master’s and be a principal and then maybe move into school administration or the  school board and stuff like that. 

I want to make a difference in schools, and I know that it starts with teaching. But if I can make an impact on all the students, then I’m going to do that. 

What I Enjoy Most About the College of Education:

I’m just glad that I’m, one, in the best college in the state; two, that I am challenged constantly to become better; and three, just that I have the community that I have and the people who are around me. I have staff who care about me; I have deans who listen and I have friends who are going through it with me but also celebrating each other’s achievements. 

What Others Should Know About the College of Education:

I can give you a list of all of our accomplishments and everything we’re good at, but to really convince you, you’re just going to have to stop, take a look around and imagine yourself in this space. 

Why I Enjoy Most About Being a Transformational Scholar:

I don’t think that I would have done so well my first year if I didn’t have 15 people who have my back who were also going through the same thing. I had 15 new friends the first day I stepped foot on campus. And so the fact that I have that community in those peers, it’s just cool. 

I’m just grateful for that experience and that I get to tour like eastern North Carolina, all the time. It’s nice to have those experiences, and I’ve gotten so many opportunities. I’m studying abroad because of Transformational Scholars in less than two months. I’m a little scared about that, but I’m going to Ireland. 

I guess I wouldn’t have the sense of community that I have without it. 

The Last Person Who Inspired Me:

[College of Education Director of Outreach and Strategic partnerships] Lindsey Hubbard. I went on the We Teach for NC Spring Break trip with her last week. I just connect with her on a certain level; she inspires me to do better things as a student leader.

When we went on this trip, there were like 30 of us, and she was in charge of all of us the entire time. Seeing her plan the events and seeing her execute them and keeping her cool when things didn’t go right or we had to improvise and just seeing her empathy for everybody — she just inspires me in so many ways.