Julia, a junior early childhood education major here at the University of Massachusetts, transferred to UMass Amherst her sophomore year and has shared with me her experience choosing to change schools, her journey so far as an education major, and her life outside of school.
Q: Why did you choose UMass Amherst?
Julia tells me she transferred here her sophomore year from a small school close to home, where everyone went home on the weekends and there wasn’t much to do. For her sophomore year she was ready for a change.
“I chose UMass because I wanted a big school with lots to do and get involved in,” She says “While I was going through the transfer process I knew that I wanted to go to a big school where I could get involved in lots of things and feel part of a big community. UMass checked all those boxes and more and I knew from the moment I stepped onto the campus that I found my home.”
Q: How did you choose your major?
“I am an early childhood education major and it is something that I have known I have wanted to do all my life. I started my childhood by playing for hours on end with my baby dolls in my basement and I grew a passion for working with and taking care of kids,” Julia says.
She tells me about how she has worked at the after school program at the elementary school in her town since the beginning of high school, has babysat since she was 13 and nannied for 3 young girls this past summer.
“Working with kids is one of the most rewarding things for me and I absolutely love it and I can’t wait to have a classroom of my own one day,” Julia adds.
Q: What was the process like specifically in the College of Education?
“The education program here at UMass Amherst doesn’t start until the beginning of junior year, so in the middle of my sophomore year I applied to the College of Education. This process consisted of an application and a video interview,” Julia tells me.
“A month later, after I was accepted into the program, I had an orientation session where I got to meet with my advisor and the other students in my cohort. This session was really helpful because I got introduced to the program and the classes that I had to register for for the next semester,” she explains.
Q: What are your classes like and do you have a favorite one?
Because Julia is a junior, she has just started in the education program but tells me she absolutely loves it so far.
"Some of my favorite classes so far are ‘Intro to Early Childhood Education’ (EDUC 393M) and ‘Principles and Methods of Teaching Reading and Language Arts’ (EDUC 461). In EDUC 393M we learned about the history of child care in the US as well as how popular culture has influenced identity development in children. Most recently, we have talked about the history of preschool and the factors that parents look for in a good preschool. We also talked about the different curriculum that preschools use and how they are similar and different," she says.
"In EDUC 461, we have discussed how to be an effective teacher of reading and the qualities that a teacher should possess to be the most effective. For example, an effective teacher should adopt a balanced approach to instruction. A balanced approach should include lessons that are made up of explicit instruction, guided practice, collaborative learning, and independent reading and writing," explains Julia.
“It is so cool to actually start learning about something that I am passionate about and have so much interest in. Also, I love that by taking these classes I am on my way to achieving my goal of becoming a teacher. It makes me inspired and determined to go to class and really pay attention to what I am learning because I know that this is information I will use in my everyday life as a teacher,” she adds.
Q: Do you have a favorite professor or a professor that has really influenced you in some way?
“Dr. Cammack was really helpful in the whole application process and throughout the beginning of the program,” Julia says.
“She is the instructor for EDUC 393M, and she makes the class fun and engaging and sets a good example for how to be a fantastic teacher and how to keep her students interested.”
Q: What do you like to do outside of class?
Outside of class, Julia likes to hang out with friends, workout, run and color.
“Over quarantine I got really into distance running and I am currently training for my second half marathon. It is something that I have grown to love and it gives me a chance to take my mind of all the things going on in my life and focus on a long term goal.”