La’Na Holden, ’19 M.Ed., strongly believes in practicing what you preach. So much that she returned to school to obtain her M.Ed. because she often tells her students to always be willing to grow and learn.
“I needed to model that mindset of being a lifelong learner,” said La’Na.
The Wendell, N.C., native chose Meredith’s Master of Education program because it was different than her previous institution. Meredith was her second attempt at graduate school.
“Things haven’t always come easy to me. My resilience and my willingness to take every downfall and learn from it is what makes me strong.”
La’Na liked the small classes Meredith offered, the positive impact that the M.Ed. curriculum would have on her current classroom, and she wanted to be an expert in her field.
“My father always told me, ‘whatever you do, be the best.’ I feel that in order to accomplish that and become a better teacher, I need to be an expert in my area,” said La’Na. “Therefore, I thought receiving an advanced degree in education would be one step closer to achieving that status.”
From a young age, La’Na knew she wanted to be a teacher. As a little girl she used to play school with her stuffed animals, and she always felt at ease around children. Now, she is a special education teacher at Abbotts Creek Elementary School in Raleigh.
“I chose specifically to be a special education teacher because I think it is important that students with disabilities are recognized for their abilities and not their disabilities.”
Throughout her time at Meredith, La’Na has been able to take concepts and strategies back to her classroom and implement them immediately. And she has learned how to provide a better learning environment for her students.
“This degree could have an impact on me being viewed as a leader in my school and within my professional learning teams. At this time, I am happy in the classroom, and this program has supported that short-term goal by providing me with a deeper lens into teaching students with disabilities.”
Her favorite experience was attending the Graduate Research Conference and having the opportunity to present her research. It was through that conference where she gained confidence in her abilities and learned best practices from other M.Ed. research participants.
“I love learning from other teachers,” said La’Na. “Presenting at the Graduate Research Conference was very empowering. It gave me the confidence to be proud of my work,” said La’Na.
For La’Na, working full time and devoting 100 percent to her academics was challenging. There were times when she doubted her abilities and wasn’t sure if she would finish, but the support she received from the Meredith faculty kept her determined to earn her degree.
“One thing that continues to resonate with me is that every, and I mean every, professor I had in the program always greeted me with a welcoming and encouraging smile. Leaving work and rushing across town to class was hard, but knowing that there was so much compassion and genuine concern for how I was doing made it much easier to walk into Ledford after a rough day at work,” said La’Na. “I’ve literally learned, I can do it and I did it.”