Elementary Education Senior, Natalie O'Callaghan has loved being part of the Illini family. One of the things that has made her Illinois experience memerable was getting involved with Illinois Student Government and the UC Campus Senate as the College of Education Student Senator. While representing the College of Education, Natalie has been able to advocate for her fellow peers on issues of diversity and inclusion, mandatory midterm grade reporting, textbook affordability, and more. She considers herself lucky to have the opportunity to advocate for both Education students as well as University students as a whole.
More about Natalie
Q. How did you know you wanted to go into the field of education?
A. Ever since I was a little girl, I LOVED playing school with my younger sister and younger kids from the neighborhood. This passion never left me, and I was so fortunate to have teachers in high school who encouraged and supported me along the way. I realized that I was able to do the same for students, and knew that I had found the perfect career for me!
Q. What do you enjoy about the College of Education?
A. I have enjoyed the wide diversity of field experiences I've had so far. I've learned so much from all of the schools, cooperating teachers, and students I've worked with so far, and can't wait to bring these experiences into my own classroom next year!
Q. Do you have a favorite professor, or course? Why?
A. Sunny McMurry!! She was my instructor for CI 406 and has really served as a mentor for me since starting my professional education sequence. CI 406 really gets into the nitty gritty of teaching and managing a classroom. Sunny's bright disposition and passion for teaching big people and little people is something worth emulating, and I can only hope to have her same passion and energy in my own classroom!
Q. Fun fact about me:
A. I have two blue ribbons from the Illinois State Fair for baton twirling!
Q. Tell us about any research you’ve done and the mentorship you’ve received from your instructors.
A. I was able to work as a research assistant for a political science professor my sophomore year. Her research focused on federal agency rulemaking, and it was so interesting to research regulations promulgated by different agencies, including the Department of Education, and how these decisions impact our everyday lives!
Q. Tell us about any study abroad experiences you’ve had and why you thought they were beneficial for your life and career.
A. I was able to study abroad with the College of Education over spring break 2018!! We traveled to Lyon, France where we were able to visit local schools and teachers. I do not speak a WORD of French, and most of the students didn't speak much English. Despite this language barrier, I was still able to interact with students in their classes. I learned that kids all over the world are the same, and just want teachers who love them, engage with them, and care about them!
Q. Tell us about your future career plans after graduating and why you want to pursue that field.
A. I am currently applying for elementary education jobs in the Champaign area, and also in the suburbs of Chicago! Originally, I was planning on attending law school right after graduation. However, I have fallen in love with working with children and seeing how they grow, develop, and learn over the course of the school year. I feel so lucky to have found a profession that allows me to make an impact in other's lives every single day!