With a lifelong dream of being an educator and a heartfelt passion for the Hispanic community, Rachael Martin, ’18, utilized Meredith College’s location and reputable education program to shape her college experience. She built on her strengths and is prepared for a career as a high school Spanish teacher.
“I took Spanish for the first time when I was a sophomore in high school and just fell in love with it,” said Rachael. “That summer, I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and I got over there and I really couldn’t talk to people. That is what really pushed me to start learning the language on my own, outside of class. I wanted to really immerse myself in the language.”
At Meredith, the Spanish major has found herself enjoying the diversity that Raleigh has to offer and has gotten involved in several organizations and clubs on campus to help enrich her learning experience. Rachael was a member of Angeles Latinas and served as co-president of La Tertulia, the Spanish Club.
“I’ve gotten to work with different parts of the community. I really like the diversity that’s in Raleigh,” said Rachael. “I like how many things are out there for the different cultures that exist here. Being involved in my clubs has allowed me to better understand the Hispanic community in Raleigh.”
Outside of her clubs and organizations, Rachael had the opportunity to study abroad twice. She spent a month in Costa Rica through Meredith’s Office of International Programs before spending the spring semester of her junior year in Merida, Mexico, through an affiliate program, IFSA-Butler.
“If it wasn’t for my study abroad experiences, I wouldn’t be able to speak Spanish as well as I do now, and I wouldn’t know so much about different cultures within cultures,” said Rachael. “Like the Mayan community, for example, in Mexico and indigenous cultures that I wouldn’t have even thought about very much without going abroad and seeing them firsthand.”
Aside from her involvement with organizations that center on her major, Rachael, who is earning a K-12 teaching licensure, has served as a study abroad peer ambassador and is a Teaching Fellow. She is currently student teaching at Holly Springs High School where she teaches Spanish 4 and AP Spanish.
“I’ve always liked Spanish and I’ve always thought that I was going to be a teacher,” said Rachael. “It just happened that I ended up putting the two things together. When I first came to Meredith, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, not with the intent of being a Spanish teacher. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I would probably be better teaching Spanish. Why not? I love doing it.”
She credits the Spanish department and the education department faculty for helping her grow and become more self-confident. “I have learned that if I want to do something, I can do it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Anything that I wanted to do at Meredith, I have been able to do, like traveling, immersing myself in the community, and making great friends. Anything that I have wanted here, I got.”
As a TEACH Grant recipient, after graduation Rachael must teach in a high-needs field at a low income school for every year that she received the grant. For the first four years, she will be teaching high school Spanish at a low income school in either Virginia or South Carolina because North Carolina doesn’t have foreign languages or world languages on the list of high needs.
“Meredith has prepared me to chase my dream and accomplish what I have always wanted to do,” said Rachael. “I could do so much with Spanish. I could do interpreting. There are so many things that I could do, and I would enjoy them. But there is nothing else I want to do the way I want to teach.”