Faces of Fall 2022 Graduates
December 2, 2022
Meet nine of the University of Northern Colorado Fall 2022 graduates who shared their story with us about their time at UNC, both challenging and exciting, what their plans are after commencement and advice they would give to future Bears.
Area of study: Elementary Education: Teacher Licensure — Culturally and LInguistically Diverse
Reflection time at UNC: Wow, where to begin? My time at UNC has been a crazy experience, but a very amazing one as well. My time at UNC started in the fall semester of 2017. It was the closest university to home and a lot cheaper than others. I started majoring in Biological Sciences but soon realized that this wasn't something I actually wanted to study. My plan was to become a pediatrician because I had always loved working with kids and that's something I wanted to do for a living, but I realized I wasn't a huge fan of science and math. So, I went and talked to my advisor about switching my major to Elementary Education. Becoming a teacher had always been at the very end of my list of possible careers because I was always so focused on the salary of a job. There were a lot of things that happened during that first year that led me to start at Aims Community College here in Greeley. I then participated in the Aims2UNC program which made my transition back to UNC so smooth. My advisor was so attentive and made my time at UNC so easy. (Shout out to Jaime Donahue!) She worked with me to plan out my two and a half years here at UNC and made it as simple as possible for me. I am incredibly thankful for her and all the work she does to help students succeed. Of course, I have to thank my parents. I am a first-gen student and my parents helped me as much as they could despite their limited knowledge of how a university is run here in the U.S. Their support and prayers got me through some very hard times.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: There's a list of challenges I could type out, but I'll give you the simple version. I completely failed my first year at UNC and that's why I decided to start fresh at Aims. I had to work hard at Aims, so that I could transfer back to UNC. I brought my GPA up and the first semester back at UNC was difficult because I had that fear that I was going to fail all over again. However, by God's grace and with the support of my family, I kept my head above the waters and here I am. From a messy failure my first year to being weeks away from placing that diploma in my parents' hands. "For when I am weak, then I am strong." ( 2 Cor 12:9-10)
Future plans: I am currently student teaching at a school here in Greeley and the plan is to stay at the school I am at or go wherever God wants to send me.
Advice for future or current Bears: Don't be afraid to ask questions! Whether it's a question for your professor(s), advisor, etc., ask the questions! Not asking questions is what caused me to fail my first year. I didn't know how college worked and I didn't have family to help me understand it either. Things might have been a bit different if I would have been brave enough to send an email or two.
Area of study: Meteorology
Reflection on time at UNC: The diverse, open and welcoming campus with a small program headed up by incredible professors helped me not only choose UNC but helped me stay.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Mental health has been a struggle for me even before college, and the support of not only my friends, family and professors but also the UNC Student Health Center helped me get to where I am now!
Future plans: Entering the job market and trying to find a job forecasting weather.
Advice for future or current Bears: Half of college is being resilient, the other half is using the resources offered to you (tutors, campus resources, professors, etc.) There are lots of people willing to help and they're just waiting for you to reach out.
Area of study: Business Administration — Computer Information Systems Concentration with a minor in Aerospace Studies
Reflection on time at UNC: UNC's top-tier Monfort College of Business was a huge draw for me and ended up being a fantastic fit. During my time at UNC, I saw myself grow more capable and confident. I genuinely felt like my professors were for me and wanted to see me succeed. I could say many great things about my business professors and aerospace studies instructors, but the individuals who were particularly phenomenal include Matt Swaffer, Moe Manshad, Dallas Everhart and Air Force Major Blake Friend. These instructors challenged me in countless areas (public speaking, critical thinking, team projects, coding assignments, etc.), and I truly believe their classes have set me up for success post-graduation.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: COVID-19 certainly presented a challenge for me and many other students. Taking the majority of my upper-level business classes online or amidst pandemic protocols was difficult. These classes demand more initiative and intentionality than the traditional face-to-face classes - at least for me. This encouraged me to continue to take ownership of my coursework and to flex with changes and challenges. I was able to maintain a high GPA, work part-time, be intentional with friends and family and graduate debt-free – all wins in my book!
Future plans: My hope is to pursue a master's degree at Texas A&M beginning in the fall of 2023. Between graduation and then, I plan to work and save money for grad school.
Advice for future or current Bears: Be intentional with your community – find individuals who are genuinely interested in you, will challenge you, support you and encourage you! And be the same person for them. Iron sharpens iron.
Area of study: Economics with a minor in Communications
Reflection on time at UNC: UNC was the perfect choice for me. I always had the perfect support system behind me to help me succeed in the best way. Whether it be classes with 100 people or six, I have professors that care about me and the grade I receive in their class.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Coming from a larger high school, it can he hard to adjust to smaller classes. After taking a couple classes, I realized that these professors are here to help us and get us to our best.
Future plans: I plan on continuing my future with Sherwin Williams as a district sales manager and grow the company to be the largest that it can be.
Advice for future or current Bears: Stay ahead of all work that is assigned to you and always give your best.
Area of study: Audiology/Speech Language Sciences with a minor in Psychology
Reflection on time at UNC: I chose UNC because the minute I arrived on campus, I felt incredibly welcomed. I knew I belonged at UNC. I was originally drawn to UNC for their incredible Speech Language Pathology program but stayed at UNC for the class size, student life and educational opportunities outside the classroom. I have felt extremely supported by my coworkers in the UNC office of admissions and my speech pathology classmates.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Having started college in 2019, my college experience was definitely altered by the pandemic. I am proud to say I will be graduating with all the requirements to obtain my Speech Language Pathology Assistant licensure.
Future plans: I plan to work as a speech language pathology assistant in a local school district for a year. After that point, I plan on applying to UNC’s Speech Language Pathology graduate program to become a speech language pathologist.
Advice for future or current Bears: Try your best! Not everything will come easy, but through effort and hard work things become obtainable. Find someone on campus you can talk to when times get hard. Keep your goals in focus.
Area of study: Mathematics — Middle School Teaching Concentration — Licensure: Middle School Mathematics (Grades 6-8)
Reflection on time at UNC: I came to UNC for the amazing education program! UNC has an amazing community on campus there is so much support from peers and staff, it's unbelievable!
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Being a mathematics major was never easy but through support it is worth the hardship.
Future plans: I'm excited to be a substitute for the spring semester before taking on my first full-time teaching position in the fall!
Advice for future or current Bears? Reach out to your professors, they want you to succeed.
Area of study: Education M.A.T. — Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Emphasis
Reflection of time at UNC: I chose to attend UNC in 2017 and I'm now finishing up in 2022 because of the quality of education I knew I would receive as a pre-service teacher and also because it was time to move away from home and grow up. Greeley is two and a half hours from my home and though I struggled missing home, I grew so much as a person and started my life up here. UNC provided me with so many opportunities to grow as a teacher and find my identify of who I was! If I could do all 13 semesters again I would choose UNC to be my home! Once a Bear always a Bear!
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I really struggled with being away from my family even though I knew I needed that room to grow. Being the eldest in my family I left three younger brothers at home and at times I missed them growing up but I knew I was setting the example they needed to grow up seeing. Not only was I their example but for my family as well, my mother recently graduated (Spring 2022) from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with her bachelor's in Special Education and my brother as of today (Nov. 18, 2022) has been accepted to attended UNC in 2023. I could not be more proud of the examples and paths I have paved for them to have opportunities to higher education.
Future plans: I am currently in my second year of teaching (fourth grade and now third grade) in a school I am so supported by and happy at. I am excited to start a life after December that does not include homework, since I’ve been in school since I started back in kindergarten. More long term, I am excited to start a family and see what the world of teaching pre-service teachers could offer at the university level.
Advice for future or current Bears: Some advice I have for current and future bears is to keep going! You can do it! ¡Sí Se Puede! There is nothing easy about college and growing up but believe that you are stronger than you think and can achieve any goals and dreams you have. I believe in you and we may have never met but I’m rooting for you, and so many more people are that you don’t even know of!
Area of study: History — Secondary Teaching Concentration — Licensure: Social Studies (Grades 7-12)
Reflection on time at UNC: I chose UNC because I initially wanted to come for athletic training and I was also interested in teaching. I ended up changing my major to education very quickly, and I appreciated the support that I received from my advisors to do so. I fell in love with how small the campus feels while also being big enough that I run into new people every day. During my time at UNC, I was fully supported by a few members of the history department and the education program when it came to my success both as a student and as a teacher. I truly believe that if I had gone anywhere else, I would not be the same kind of teacher that I am today. I also appreciate that the staff that has supported me during my time at UNC has also made me feel like I can reach out at any time in the future and still receive that same level of support that I had as a student.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: My time at UNC was definitely an interesting time. My first year was cut short by COVID and we were sent home to finish the semester. The following year was a very different campus to return to. Some classes were in person, but most were still online so any time I walked around campus to either go to class, go to the library, etc. I didn't really see very many people. I felt very isolated that year with having very few people that I was interacting with on a daily basis. My final year on campus was also interesting, but in a different kind of way. I was trying to balance multiple jobs, my final courses before student teaching, and a large, semester-long research project while also trying to maintain my social life. Despite the challenges that I did face during my time at UNC, I was also very successful with the things I was involved in. Working with the Lead On program at UNC for four years in multiple leadership positions is something I will forever be grateful for. I met some of my greatest friends through this program and I gained experience that I think will be helpful for me in the future.
Future plans: I am planning to become a high school social studies teacher. In the spring, I am planning to be a substitute teacher and begin full-time teaching in fall 2023.
Advice for future or current Bears: Get as involved as you possibly can, whether that be in a job, joining a club, playing sports, etc. I also highly recommend trying to go to as many events on campus as you possibly can. Go to the football games, volleyball, basketball, hockey, etc. Go see the plays, go to the concerts. Go to the events put on by RAs and Housing. Through having multiple jobs with housing, working with Lead On, being part of History Club, and many other experiences, I truly feel that I made the most of my time here.
Area of study: Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice
Reflection on time at UNC: I chose UNC because it felt most like home to me. I had an amazing first roommate and have maintained irreplaceable friends throughout my time here as a resident assistant and as vice president of my fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I have grown so much as a person and found my passion in life, which is helping people. I have also learned to make more time for myself.
Future plans: I applied for the Master of Social Work program at Colorado State University and I hope to attend graduate school there in fall 2023. Meanwhile, I will be working with North Range Behavioral Health and live in Greeley through the spring.
Advice for future or current Bears: Don't let any opportunities to meet good people pass you by.