Student Spotlight

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Student Spotlight

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  • Rayna Zirkelbach | The Road Worth Taking

    Transferring to a new school can be challenging, but for Rayna, the warm environment of the University of Illinois made the transition an easy one. Once Rayna was welcomed with open arms to campus, she soon found her place in the College of Education, but not how you might think. When asked about her decision to become an educator, she replied, "I didn’t know for a long time. On a whim I got a job at a daycare, and this is where I fell in love with education. I knew I wanted to do this as my career." Rayna's story is a great example that you don't have to have it all figured out right away. Sometimes the longer road is the one worth taking! 

  • Lucille Luan | Miles Away, Always at Home

    Senior Lucille Luan traveled far from her family in Cupertino, California to pursue an education at Illinois, but she's always at home with the College of Education. Lucille comes from a family of educators, and says "I was naturally drawn to the idea of becoming a teacher since my early exposure to family members who were teachers! My grandma, my dad, and my previous professors and teachers are all strong influences."

  • Shelby Oertel | Goodbye, Comfort Zone

    Freshman Shelby Oertel is stepping out of her comfort zone and into opportunity this year! There's a lot to take in at Illinois, and that's precisely why she's here. Shelby is looking forward to Illini basketball seasons and all the new friendships to come in the four years ahead of her. Most of all, Shelby is looking forward to gaining "The best perspective to further my professional development and allow me to help shift the workplace dynamic" through the College of Education.

  • Jacalyn Wingerter | Inspired by Educators

    Everyone has a special educator that has inspired them in some way. Senior Jacalyn Wingerter draws inspiration from her English professor, Professor Pollock. She says, "He's the most enthusiastic English professor and really knows how to make any type of literature come to life!" Jacalyn hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to an English classroom of her own after graduating. This week, tell an educator in your life how they inspire you!

     

  • Aranza Rico | Kindness Counts

    Junior Aranza Rico is feeling the love from the College of Education family. These days are hard for us all, and kindness can go a long way. Aranza says the staff is "Very helpful and friendly. They care about students' mental health, especially during these times." The university has a number of mental health opportunities and resources available to those in need. 

     

  • Grace McCoy| Just The Beginning

    Freshman Grace McCoy is starting her college journey under unusual circumstances, but that's not stopping her ambition, optimism, and drive! Grace has always seen the value in education, and through the support of the College of Education community, she is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. Grace says, "Any job in this profession would be rewarding and would keep me on my toes, so that I continue to feel that I am doing something worthwhile for my students."

  • Sean Gardiner | Opened Eyes

    Sean Gardiner, a Junior in English and Secondary Education, has learned so much on his undergraduate journey. His favorite lessons so far are the tough truths of the inequality in our education system. Sean says this of his Identity and Difference in Education class, "It truly opened my eyes to the imbalances in our education system and in our world today as a whole. I have recommended it to many of my friends, even those that are not in the College of Education."

  • Kennedy Record | Shaping Future World Changers

    Sophomore Kennedy Record is living life as an Illinois student to the fullest. She loves cheering on the Fighting Illini, checking out the local coffee shops, and most of all, she loves her work with children with disabilities. Kennedy says, "I desire to be supportive of children who feel voiceless, to be someone who will fight for their needs."

  • RJ Schlesinger | Breaking the Mold

    Senior RJ Schlesinger's skills and interests are totally unique. At Illinois, RJ doesn't have to fit into one category-he can make his own! Through research, courses, and mentorship from his professors, RJ is taking all he has learned and sharing it by becoming an educator. RJ says "I want to teach! It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying, but I am up to the challenge!"

  • Haley Allen | Learning Along The Way

    Despite all of her research, trainig and studies, senior Haley Allen still felt uneasy about taking over a classroom of her own. That is, until her mentors in the College of Education taught her a very valuable lesson; you will always be learning along the way. Haley says, "Because of my instructors, I now feel prepared for the many unknowns that come with teaching young children."