Student Spotlight

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Student Spotlight

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  • Kapri Dowdell | Advocate and Inspire

    As her senior year comes to a close, Special Education major Kapri Dowdell has her eyes set on her future as an educator. After graduation, Kapri is heading home to Chicago as an elementary school teacher in Chicago Public Schools, with plans to return to school for a Master's in Administration in a few years. When asked about her dream job, Kapri stated, "I want to be a principal or have a higher power in our education system to advocate for our students with special needs for academic, emotional, and mental support."

  • Lesly Ortega | "Teaching is the only path for me"

    Junior Lesly Ortega feels that the path to teaching is the only one for her, and has felt this way since childhood. As an English major and Secondary Education minor, Lesly has enjoyed her courses in and out of the College of Education, and looks forward to returning to her high school as an English teacher as soon as possible. When she's not in class or studying, Lesly enjoys checking out the local restaurants and greeting her peer's pets on the quad.

  • Erin Molay | Ready To Explore

    Erin Molay is determined to give her future students the most authentic and enriching experience a classroom can offer. That's why after she has completed her studies as an Elementary Education major and Psychology minor, Erin plans to travel the world and explore the cultures and communities abroad. When asked about her time with the College of Education, Erin said, "I love the close-knit community atmosphere!"

  • Cara Merkle | Sharing The Love

    For many middle schoolers, math and science are tricky, boring, and even loathed classes. But for freshman Cara Merkle, the two subjects are not only understood, but adored! Cara's affinity for math and science is so strong, she's dedicating herself to sharing that love and knowledge as a Middle Grades Math & Science Education major. While only in her freshman year, Cara already has her sights set on how her future classroom will motivate and inspire her students in the face of challenging subjects, "I'd really like to have a classroom that makes lessons more engaging and exciting so students can grow to love the subject!"

  • Sara Striepling | Community, Opportunity, and Balance

    Whether it's growing alongside her peers in her cohort, ushering a show at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, patronizing local businesses, or exploring her passion of special education, Sophomore Sara Striepling values the community she has found in Champaign-Urbana. Most of all, she appreciates the balanced life as a College of Education student, remarking "It's great to have the opportunities and experiences that come with going to a large university while still having small and personal classes." 

  • Madison Barrera | "Always Demonstrate Care"

    Ever since she saw the increasing need for special education teachers firsthand in her Chicago high school, sophomore Madison Barrera has been a strong advocate for inclusivity in the education system. Through her studies as a Special Education major and Speech Language Pathology minor, Madison is practicing the belief that educators have the power to make lasting positive impacts on every student. She says, "Our job is to keep all of our students in our minds with every decision and always demonstrate care for our students’ success."

  • Emily Manzo | "Thrive in Your Chosen Path"

    Halfway through her junior year, Emily Manzo has already taught and studied abroad in Costa Rica, conducted research under three professors, and led discussions in EDUC 101, all while working toward her degree in Learning and Education Studies-Educational Equality Cultural Understanding, and minoring in Spanish and Latinx Studies. Having savored all of these experiences and more, Emily misses her time with friends at La Casa Cultural the most from her pre-pandemic days on campus.

  • Gwen Cox | Fueling the Next Generation

    It's easier than ever for our vision to be fogged when thinking about future plans in a time of such unpredictability. Freshman Gwen Cox understands that the importance of education is one constant she can count on. "The next generation of students have a big impact on our future, and to have to opportunity to fuel them to have big goals and inspire them to keep learning would be an amazing experience," she says.

  • Abby Dizon | Determined to Inspire

    Senior Abby Dizon misses the warm, positive energy of the College of Education building most of all in these strange times. The positivity from her peers and instructors of present, all the way back to Kindergarten, have influenced her personally and professionally. When asked about her aspirations to teach in Chicago Public Schools as a Golden Apple Scholar, she replied, "I am determined to inspire students and provide them with a reason to be their best self every single day."

  • Genesis Rivera | "The Key To Our Liberation"

    Freshman Genesis Rivera experienced her formative years at a low-income Black and Brown elementary school in Chicago. From a young age, she noticed her peers lose their passion for education after experiencing the traumas of family and friends falling victim to gun violence and incarceration. Genesis is determined to break this vicious cycle with the best tool she knows — teaching. "I want to be able to tell my students that education and knowledge is powerful." She says, "It’s the key to our liberation and will help us give back to our communities. My students will not be another statistic."