Student Spotlight: Amanda White

Student Spotlight: Amanda White

By Amanda White

Q: Tell us about your career path.

A: Less than a year before applying to Northwestern, I returned home from Brazil, where I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at the Federal University of Uberlandia. Before that, I taught English and U.S. culture in rural Spain, and I had also been a bilingual teaching aid in Chicago Public Schools. Though I had these various experiences within the education field, I felt very unsure about teaching as a career. I believed I needed a “palate cleanser” to help find my way,  yet I still wanted to work with students. International Education seemed like a viable option. As I readjusted to American life upon returning from Brazil, I networked, researched, and applied for different administrative opportunities in International Education and Study Abroad. However, I kept feeling like something was still not right. It seemed every role I applied for would not help me achieve what I wanted in my career. My heart persistently returned to the idea of teaching, and I could not ignore it.

Q: Why do you want to be a teacher? Was there a particular teacher who inspired you in school?

A: I want to be a teacher because of my meaningful relationships with colleagues, and especially with students. Serving students as an educator is the most direct way to galvanize them as lifelong learners and provide guidance as they form their adult identities. My high school Spanish teachers made an invaluable impact on my life. They influenced my love for immersion in new languages and cultures, which led me to earn a B.A. in Spanish and study overseas in the first place. Those experiences then catalyzed the educational roles mentioned above. My high school teachers inspired me yet again when I reached out for their help and insight as I began to seriously consider teaching as a profession. This past fall, my practicum seminar instructor Rebekah Stathakis (also a Spanish language teacher) said in class, “Learning another language can change lives.” That solidified everything for me because it rings true in my experience. That is the type of experience I hope to instill within my students. We learned in our education courses that teaching is cyclical, yet that cyclical nature goes beyond the classroom. It’s incredible, and I want to be a part of it.  

Q: Why did you choose Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Education Program?

A: I admired the MSEd Program’s focus on educational methodology and social context matched with rigorous fieldwork, mentorship, and research. It also is a deeply reflective program, which I value greatly. I knew I would be best nurtured and educated as a whole, unique person and future teacher. However, the community in the MSEd Program is what completely won me over. Since the day I first called the office during my initial program research, I have always felt welcomed and at home.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: Ultimately, I want to shape and empower global citizens. In our increasingly globalized world, we must effectively interact with our fellow people. Through these interactions we establish communication, trust, and mutual understanding between cultures and therefore yield peaceful and meaningful relationships. I want to best prepare and inspire my future students for these exchanges, whether here in the U.S. or abroad. I also aim to lead students overseas to encourage them to expand and deepen their view of the world and their place in it, while encouraging participation in that world. It is also my hope to embolden the same lifelong love of learning and pursuit of knowledge both in and out of the classroom in the same way that my instructors once did for me.

Q: What advice or insight would you give to an incoming first-year in the Northwestern MSEd Program?

A: Embrace the community. You are more than a student, and the program knows that! Spend time with your cohort outside of class for fun. Go to any event the MSEd office has for students, faculty, and staff. There is a lot of stress by nature in graduate school. While friends and family do help, it’s the people in your cohort that fully understand what you are going through, because they are literally going through it with you. The MSEd office and program instructors are also incredibly warm and supportive. I’ve had many wonderful experiences connecting with everyone on a personal level, which has given me much-needed encouragement and motivation. 

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