Alex Herel, ’16, has known she wanted to be a teacher as long as she can remember.
“My dream has always been to make a difference for others – so the classroom is the perfect place for me.”
Thanks to Meredith’s tight-knit community, Alex formed close relationships with her professors and peers. She found an academic mentor who encouraged her to major in English, and eventually became her honors thesis adviser.
“I had a class with [Dr. Colby] almost every semester because I actively sought out her classes. I loved her teaching style and the passion she had for the content.”
Meredith students are paired with an upper level student, a “Big Sis” to help them navigate their transition to college. In Alex’s case, her Big Sis saw potential that Alex hadn’t seen in herself.
“I have been involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) since my sophomore year and I never would have thought about it until my Big [Sis] pushed me to expand my leadership roles.”
That gentle nudge had a profound effect on her college experience.
“My grades went up and my involvement on campus increased. I became a happier person because I finally felt like I had a purpose. From there people encouraged me to broaden my horizons and try other new things I wouldn’t have ever been brave enough to try.”
Alex was engaged across campus, participating in traditions such as Cornhuskin’, when she made some of her favorite memories. She worked in the Office of Student Leadership and Service all four years, and was active in the Teaching Fellows program.
Such experiences contributed to her professional development, too. For one memorable assignment, she took what she was learning about her strengths at Meredith and created a unit for her fourth graders.
“I had them do a strengths test. I remembered all the strengths training I had gone through as a member of SGA and how it helped me develop my leadership skills, so I thought it was a great opportunity for my students.”
Drawing on the connections she had in the Meredith community, Alex also invited staff from the Career Planning Office to talk to her students about interviews and first impressions.
The range of field experiences she’s had as a student teacher, including spending every year in a different elementary school classroom, have made her feel confident and prepared to take on her new role as an elementary school teacher in Wake County, a position she was offered just before graduation.
“All the experiences I have been afforded will make me the best educator I can be. I can never thank Meredith enough for the lessons I have learned in and out of the classroom.”
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