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You Asked Questions; Our Students and Alums Answered!

We are delighted to welcome a very academically talented freshman class this fall... the class of 2019! We understand that college choice is a big decision. We asked some recent alums and current students to answer some questions that have been posed by incoming freshmen. Thanks to the following people for sharing their insight...

Ashlee Mae Beckett, alum
Nicole Serafini, alum
Jacob Minsinger, alum
Samantha McNally, alum
Shannon Wenger, alum
Emily Squiller, current student
Sophia White, current student
Adrianna Wolos, current student
Maggie Marciniak, current student
Rebecca Sella, current student

What were the things you thought about when you were making a final college selection?

I wanted a school that would not just get me a certification; I wanted a school that would show me how to be a successful teacher. Duquesne ended up being that place. - Jacob

The reason I knew I loved teaching went beyond the stereotypical "I love kids." It came from a desire I had to create. I knew that in education I would have the opportunity to create many things in my students. I would be able to create an understanding in them of the subject matter at hand, but I would also be able to create children who loved learning and who were excited to find out what things interested them in the classroom and how they could really develop into the person they were meant to be as an adult. - Ashlee

When making a final decision about college, I honestly can say that I didn't struggle very much. Looking at the program and visiting the campus help greatly. After each visit, I would go home and write down what I liked/disliked. When it came time to decide, I couldn't get Duquesne out of my head. It stood out more than any other college/ed. program that I was considering. - Nicole

When thinking of how I made my final decision to come to Duquesne there were a lot of factors that went into it. I really liked the curriculum center that would be available to us and I liked the promise of the study abroad student teaching opportunity. I think it is essential that we are able to explore the world in which we live and experience as many things that are different from our everyday lives as possible so that we can include them in our future classrooms. The size of the school and proximity to my family were also very big factors in my decision to attend this university. - Emily

One of the things that made me choose Duquesne is how well-known they are for their education program. Another great thing (for secondary ed majors) is the dual degree program. - Adrianna

Can you provide examples of how teachers are still able to put themselves and their own creativity into their teaching, even though so much more time is being devoted to standardized testing?

There are plenty of opportunities for teacher creativity. The state only dictates what standards need to be taught; they do not dictate how they should be taught. Teachers still have the autonomy to teach the standards in whatever way they find best works for kids. I still have the choice between giving a worksheet or designing a project that requires students to research the food that they eat and write a letter to their school providing alternative food options. - Jacob

While testing and more rigid curricula have restricted educators to an extent, I still find that when I close my classroom door at the beginning of each class, it is still me and my kids. I still decide what to do with that time and how to motivate and inspire my students to love learning AND to meet my content standards. That is the best part of my day. Yes, the job can be stressful at times, but that's because I take on leadership roles I know I am capable of handling. - Samantha

Teachers are definitely still able to have their own creativity show in the classroom, despite the emphasis on standardized testing. Yes, so we've heard you have to teach to the test sometimes. Isn't that even more of an opportunity to let your creativity shine when you can? How hard do you have to work so that the students learn what they need to know but still enjoy it? To me, that's what being a teacher is all about. We are life-long lovers of learning, and it's part of our unwritten job description to share that love with others. Though it might be a challenge with the way the education system seems to work right now, we're always up for a challenge as educators! - Adrianna

I've always been the voice in curricular decisions along with my counterparts to assure that the content we present to our students is of the appropriate rigor but also of high interest and high level thinking. By giving teachers that freedom, we are able to dive into making lessons that give our students the skills needed to perform well on state and national assessments. Teachers are able to make that difference in their classes each day with engaging and innovative way to teach. Some additional examples of things I've done to have creativity control in my teaching include: Professional development opportunities - this could be from day long seminars and conferences to attaining my National Board Certification and Masters in Educational Leadership, publishing and presenting at the national level in conferences; Being a part of curriculum writing in the summer to develop your own day to day lessons and expectations for students; and Developing clubs that further support for content area. - Ashlee

What else would you say to our prospective students who are making a final college/major selection?

There was no question that when I was hired, districts immediately recognized and respected that I was a Duquesne graduate (and this was in a district 300 miles away!). In interviews I felt confident because I was so well-prepared. I was hired on my first interview, to a position 350 people applied for. I don't say this to brag - a Duquesne graduate has the content knowledge, pedagogy, and well-rounded experience needed to stand out. - Samantha

With a week or two before college started, I switched majors and have never been happier. I truly can say that day I made the best decision of my life and have not regretted it in the least. The Education program here has been nothing short of fantastic and I believe I am going to be very well prepared to become a teacher. - Maggie

My mom taught for over 30 years and she always said the same statement to me and it's really is true- she would say "education will never make you a millionaire, but you'll wake up happy and excited each day to truly make a difference in our world and to love what you do." I've found in just the last ten years that loving what you do in a rewarding career like education is worth so much more than any dollar amount I could earn in another career. - Ashlee

While teaching is a route to go, there are multiple options to explore with a teaching degree. Counseling, higher level education, daycare, upper level management, etc. There are endless options. - Sophia

I didn't really know I wanted to teach until I tried something else first and found that I enjoyed tutoring my friends more than I did learning about my then current major. At that point the decision for me to change majors/schools was easy. I think it was valuable for me to have an actual experience that led me to teaching - I didn't feel like I needed to be convinced by other people - real things happening in my life woke me up to what I should be doing. When making a decision on where to go for education I thought about how I wanted to stay in Pittsburgh and what university "name" would give me the most opportunity... clearly Duquesne was the option! I really think incoming students just need to go with their gut! - Shannon

Another important point about becoming a teacher- yes it is a difficult and evolving field and it receives a lot of negative attention from the media; HOWEVER, education is one of those fields in which there will always be jobs available and there will always be a need for good teachers. If the student really takes advantage of his or her four years here and allows himself or herself to become the best teacher possible, they will have a stellar resumé, good connections to local schools, a remarkable portfolio, and great recommendations. This will make schools want to hire them. - Rebecca

Still have questions?

Contact Rachael Moore at 412.396.5193 or moorer6@duq.edu.