The decision to attend UNCA was one of the easiest choices I have made. I knew that I wanted to live in the mountains and Asheville offered the perfect environment for my interests both inside and outside the classroom. I started as a freshman at UNCA in 2010 and after my first year I declared my major field of study- Environmental Studies with a concentration in Earth Science. I later decided to add the teacher licensure program to my academic path. I graduated in May 2014 with my B.S. and NC Professional Educators License for Middle Grades Science and Grades 9-12 Science.
One of the most influential experiences I had at UNCA was conducting research through the Environmental Studies Department. My research was focused on the corrosion minerals that form on coin currency when exposed to different environmental conditions. I had the opportunity to work in the lab using the SEM (scanning electron microscope) and other equipment to conduct chemical analyses and identify minerals. It was an eye opening experience to view a world unknown to the naked eye. Creating and analysing these microscopic images revealed a new connection between the disciplines of art and science that later became the focus of my career.
Another experience that was highly influential in my career path was my ARTS 300 class. I took an interdisciplinary class called “The Art of Science and Science of Art” with Dr. Nancy Ruppert. This class helped me explore the deep connection between the areas of art and science. I knew that I wanted to continue my study of the intersection between art and science and when I accepted my first teaching job in Asheville I was given this opportunity.
My first job experience after graduation was as a founding faculty member at a brand new charter school in Asheville- The Franklin School of Innovation. Starting a new school provided me with leadership and collaboration skills that are important in any job. I was fortunate to be able to design my own elective course aligning the Earth/Environmental Science curriculum with the Art curriculum for 9th graders. I credit my ARTS 300 class at UNCA for the foundation of knowledge necessary in designing and teaching this innovative course.
My time spent at UNCA taught me how valuable community engagement is to an authentic educational experience. Advice I offer to current students and soon to be UNCA alumni is to never turn down an opportunity. Every person you meet and experience you have is an open door to new opportunities and you never know where they might lead you. I want to leave you with some words of inspiration that have guided me through the first year of my career…
“Don’t look further for answers: be the solution. Make a promise to stop getting in the way of the blessing that you are. Take a deep breath, remember to have fun, and begin.” — Jonathan Ellerby
I wish you all the best!