“Education was my ticket out.”

My history teachers saw something in me. They pulled me to the side. They said, “There’s something brighter in you. You’re smarter than this.” I wanted a different path, and that path was school for me. Education was my ticket out.

Those teachers inspired me to go to school. I decided to go to Eastern. As a first-generation college student, I knew I had to go to school, I had to make a change.

It was a wakeup call. I saw what kind of teachers were needed in the education field. I saw what kind of educators we need to be. They need people like us to go in there and try to change that field. Don’t be something that you’re not. Be you.

— Willie

“Superheroes were people who worked in my school.”

I started to identify superheroes as people who worked in my schools. Like my seventh-grade gym teacher who showed me how to value my community and how important my voice was. Or my high-school English teacher, who knew exactly how to support me when I was too scared to ask for help. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to be like them.

Being an education major has helped me focus my vision of not just who I want to be as a teacher, but as a sister, as a classmate, as a friend, as a soul-mate.

I’ll never forget the feeling of being surrounded by people who want the same things for humanity as me, who want to help students who are like me, who were superheroes before the capes. I’ll never forget the way it felt to be part of a fellowship where I was so wholly supported and accepted.

– Hannah 

“Not being represented has an effect on you…it creeps up on you.”

My perception of what it means to be a teacher has changed since before and after I came to college.  When I got to college, being a teacher was the only thing I’d ever thought of, so that’s what I’m going to continue doing. And then you come to college and you realize, wow, I’ve been deprived of so much rich education in my life. This isn’t a profession, it’s a lifestyle. It’s something you dedicate your life to.

In my classes, I’d see a bunch of white people.  Not being represented has an effect on you. And it’s not one you recognize right away. It creeps up on you. And it hits you when you’re at the lowest.

I’m going to be the kind of teacher I wanted in high school. That I didn’t realize I could have until I came to college.  I’m going to be that teacher for my students.

Being a teacher, being an educator, being a leader, being a start to change is never meant to be easy. It never has been historically and it never will be in the future. So I decided that I will not let underrepresentation deter me from achieving a position that fosters women and minorities first-generation college students, immigrants and Muslim women to follow their dreams.

– Aisha