Education and French Double Major
"Chemical Engineering didn't work out," Zoe says.
Zoe began college somewhere else. She attended a small liberal arts college that allowed her the opportunity to explore her interests and figure out what she was really passionate about. In the classroom she learned that chemical engineering was not what she wanted to pursue and outside of the classroom, through her experience as a residential advisor her sophomore year, she found what she did want to focus on: teaching.
Unfortunately, the institution she was attending did not have an education program. She would not be able to earn her teaching certification there. Zoe decided to take a gap year to consider her transfer options.
Throughout the course of that year, Zoe was able to work and travel. She taught English in Costa Rica for a summer which solidified her desire to become a teacher. Zoe found Knox while reading the Yale Daily Press College Review Book; she further researched Knox, applied, and was accepted.
"When I got the folder in the mail something clicked, I knew that I was coming [to Knox]," Zoe says, "I think being a transfer student meant that I knew what I was getting, I felt better able to judge different colleges and what I wanted."
Zoe loves the Knox Department of Education, the student and faculty diversity has offered her many different pedagogical approaches to teaching. She is also majoring in French, a language she has always been interested in, but had not pursued seriously because she felt her only options for using French were to continue on to graduate school, an option she doesn't discount for the future, but isn't quite ready for.
Since Zoe started at Knox she has had many opportunities to get in the classroom. With required observation and teaching hours in Galesburg area schools, all education students put their knowledge to direct use.
Last summer, Zoe took part in Breakthrough Collaborative, a non-profit organization that, according to their website, "launches motivated middle-school students on the path to college and prepares older students for careers in education." Through funding from Knox's Richter Memorial Scholarship Fund Zoe was able to teach in Miami with Breakthrough Collaborative. When speaking about the experience Zoe says, "I feel better informed in my classes. I am able to ask questions that it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask last year without having spent time in a classroom and having seen my stumbling blocks, seen the things I didn't anticipate."
Worried when she transferred that she wouldn't be able to study abroad, Zoe found that wasn't the case at Knox. She traveled to Besancon, France on a Knox-run program. "Because it's a Knox program, faculty from the French department are in Besancon as program directors. They had a context for where I was coming from, what I wanted to learn, where my language skills were, and what I would be interested in doing," says Zoe.
The experience taught her a lot -- from how to write a French essay to the cultural differences regarding privacy and criticism in the classroom. It was overwhelming at first, but Zoe really came to appreciate the value of learning about a different educational system. She plans on incorporating some of what she learned into her own classroom.
When she returned to Knox, Zoe started living in French housing. It was a great way to continue to speak French and engage in the culture. "My favorite thing about being a student at Knox is the community. On this campus I feel connected to everybody. Everybody is open to what people have to say and who they are."