Seven Center for Educator Preparation students, who were awarded the Dr. Laurie F. Michaels Scholarship in Education to assist in covering expenses during their student teaching semester, are graduating from Colorado State University this spring.
Spanning a variety of content areas from STEM to the humanities, each scholarship winner was recognized for their leadership ability, character, and promise of success in the teaching profession.
“Balancing the full teaching load of student teaching and trying to work in the evenings and weekends can cause a lot of stress,” said Dawn Mallette, an associate professor in the School of Education. “The students lucky enough to be selected for the prestigious Dr. Laurie Michaels Scholarship are able to enter their final semester at CSU with much less concern about the tuition burden student teaching may cause. The generosity of Laurie Michaels is amazing, and the scholarships are a true gift to the recipients.”
Alexandra Aldana Lopez
Alexandra Aldana Lopez grew up in Aurora, Colorado, where her social studies teachers inspired her interest in government and history. Now a history major, Lopez looks forward to inspiring the next generation of history lovers. Lopez decided to become a teacher when she realized that many students of color go through the education system without having a teacher of color. Having had several teachers of color in her own education, Lopez hopes to become an educator that understands and relates to her students.
“The Dr. Laurie Michaels award allowed me to focus on my education classes for the rest of the fall semester and on to student teaching during the spring semester rather than working,” she said. “I was able to spend more time planning lessons and getting involved in the school I was placed in.”
Chloe Beardsley grew up in Englewood, Colorado, and has been an avid fan of the sciences since she was in elementary school. With help and inspiration from past teachers, Beardsley discovered chemistry as a way in which the world could be explained. Her yearning to teach was motivated by her experience with Girls Inc. in Denver, Colorado, where she worked as a teaching assistant for girls ages 6-12. Helping and mentoring those within the program filled her heart with joy, and ensured her that working as a teacher would be a continuously fulfilling experience.
“There is, of course, always the lifting of the financial burden that comes along with a scholarship, so I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Michaels for assisting me and others in this way,” said Beardsley. “One of the things I also hold close to my heart when I receive a scholarship is the feeling that someone I have never known (and possibly never will) believes in me and believes in supporting the endeavor of higher education towards a career in teaching. This scholarship means that someone else fully supports this choice for me , and it means so much to me to have been given this support .. I hope other students are able to receive this same gift of education.”
Venus Cariaso grew up in a military family, moving around throughout her childhood. A first-generation college student, Cariaso studies mathematics in education with the hopes that she can help students recognize their full potential. As a young student, Cariaso struggled through a fixed mindset as she doubted her skills in mathematics. Looking to the future, she hopes to acknowledge the struggle of learning the material while also encouraging her students to have the courage to pursue answers. With the belief that teaching has the power to influence the future minds of the world, Cariaso hopes to positively influence students to change the world for the better.
“As a first-generation college student who works full-time throughout the school year, this award was greatly appreciated and did not go to waste. Due to this scholarship, I was able to focus my energy and time on my work within the classroom rather than the financial side of college,” said Cariaso. “For my student teaching semester, I am happy to say that I did not have to work any job while completing my student teaching assignment! It was refreshing and wonderful to finish my college career without having to spend so many tears and hard work focusing on how to pay it all off. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for Dr. Michaels’ generosity.”
RK Hancock IV
RK Hancock IV grew up in Arvada, Colorado, where he found a deep love of baseball and the outdoors. Now a natural sciences major, Hancock hopes to implement the sciences in the classroom to motivate students to stay in school and help them understand that every student deserves the opportunity to gain the knowledge needed to change the world. Hancock has wanted to be a teacher from a young age and aspires to reach diverse student populations and become a positive role model in young kids’ lives.
“Being awarded this scholarship was huge for me,” said Hancock. “It took a lot of stress off of me and my family, financially. That was one less thing I needed to worry about this spring. Also, it felt great to win this award because I feel like all the hard work I’ve put in was recognized. I pride myself in the hard work I put in the past four years to gain as much experience I could in terms of teaching.”
Kelci Hartz grew up in Loveland, Colorado, and has been involved in music ever since she was young. Now a music major, Hartz hopes to draw on her different musical backgrounds from band to choir, orchestra and more, to bring a comprehensive music education to her students. Hartz aspires to bring a lifelong love and understanding of music to her students so they can be empowered to perform, write, listen, and hear music reflected in their own lives.
“I was honored to have been selected for the Dr. Laurie F. Michaels award, and it completely changed the way that I felt about student teaching,” said Hartz. “As someone who has been completely self-supporting throughout college, financial assistance means the world to me – it meant that I didn’t have to work during my student teaching, and it also meant that I was able to live near my student teaching placement so that I didn’t need to commute multiple hours per day. The time that this gave back to me was then spent bettering myself as a musician and as an educator for my future students!”
Will Joyce grew up in Connecticut before making the move to Colorado to get out of his comfort zone. Highly active on campus, Joyce studies history and looks forward to sharing the stories embedded within history to his students, to give them knowledge that he believes all informed citizens of the world should know. While Joyce didn’t originally intend to be a teacher, his experience serving as a second grade student teacher in high school made him realize that he had the tools to be an educator. As he looks into the future, Joyce looks forward to waking up every morning knowing that he is making an impact as an educator.
“After receiving this gift, a large weight was shifted off my shoulders. I could focus on what is most important: being the best teacher I can be for my students,” said Joyce. “This gift reaffirmed to me that people care about the future of the education system in America. Every day, I am reminded that teachers are underappreciated and under-rewarded for their services to the future of our country and the world. This scholarship proved to me that there are still people who recognize the importance of education and the role that teachers play in the betterment of society.”
Mudita Yajnik was born in India and moved to the United States in 2008. As an English major, Yajnik hopes to use the magic of books to help students understand the complexities of the world in ways they never have before. Inspired by her former teacher, Mr. Knierim, Yajnik realized that teachers had a hand in making school fun and exciting. She hopes to have the same impact on her students as her favorite teachers did, by creating meaningful relationships and ensuring that her students are comfortable in the classroom.
“The award has helped me a lot,” said Yajnik. “One of my biggest concerns about student teaching was having enough money to get by while focusing on my job. The award put that worry out of my mind and I was able to put 100% of my efforts into the classroom. I’m glad I was able to spend weekends at home instead of at work because I was able to give more time to my students. I had a lot of fun planning lessons with my mentor teacher, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that as comfortably as I did if I didn’t have Dr. Michaels’ award. Thank you!”
About the Dr. Laurie F. Michaels Scholarship in Education
The Dr. Laurie F. Michaels Scholarship in Education is a one-time award to 8-10 full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the Center of Educator Preparation’s teacher licensure program. To qualify, a student must be in their final year/semester, with a demonstrated financial need. Their application must exhibit leadership ability, character, and promise of success in the teaching profession. Preference is given to students who exemplify a commitment to social justice.
The scholarship award comes at a time when teacher licensure students are working full-time as student teachers for an entire semester, while also paying tuition as students themselves. For students already struggling to make ends meet, this semester often means a year of added debt or working second jobs, and anxiety. The scholarship allows students to complete that semester without these struggles.