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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Mónica Sánchez

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Elementary Education and Minor in Spanish

Mónica studied abroad in Rome for a term, where she learned the different aspects of the education system in Italy and the United States.

Monica Sanchez ’24

What is your major and why did you pick it? 

I am majoring in elementary education because I’ve grown up in a family full of teachers. On the surface, I said I wanted to explore and see what I liked, but deep down, I knew I wanted to teach. Working at summer camps just showed me how happy teaching children and watching them grow makes me—it’s something I am truly passionate about and can see myself doing in the future. Inclusive education is also something I want to work towards. In fact, my study abroad in Rome was focused on children with disabilities.  Eventually, I aim to make education more accessible to students across the country. After grad school and working with students one-on-one, I plan on expanding into educational research which would help me achieve this goal. 

Could you tell me more about your study abroad in Rome?

I have been to Italy once before coming to Knox and I knew I wanted to go back, so when I found a program related to early education there, I had to apply. Along with my classes, I had an internship at a Montessori school that focuses on educating children based on their interests rather than traditional teaching methods. The school’s curriculum was focused on incorporating disability accommodations at its core, rather than it being an extension of the made to those in need. I also had the opportunity to teach some of these children. For instance, for Day of the Dead, we made “papel picados,” which are paper cutouts used for decoration. This way students learned about Mexican culture and geometrical shapes as they proceeded with their activities. The study abroad experience not only gave me the opportunity to learn about education in Italy and gain some first-hand experience, but also helped me discover Italian culture and gave me confidence in my capabilities. 

Why did you pick Knox? 

Knox allowed me to explore different majors. I was extremely interested in creative writing at one point, and Knox has an excellent program designed for it. Having the opportunity to have both an education and a creative writing major at the same time was definitely a selling point. Knox is also far from home, but at the same time, it’s not too far away. It gives me the space to grow with the comfort of knowing that, if need be, I will be back in two hours. 

Finally, I came from an extremely competitive school that was solely academics driven. Knox is more well-rounded and gives me the opportunity to grow in ways I would never have imagined before. The environment that Knox creates is welcoming and comforting—in an odd way, it feels like home. 

What is your role as a student leader in the community? 

I am an interfaith peer educator. We help people understand spirituality, explore different religions, and educate them on how to adopt them if they choose to. As an interfaith peer educator, I have had the opportunity to organize events and show people the different faiths that there are in the world. For instance, we organized an event where we brought tarot card readers, gave out crystals, and explained how they were used. In fact, the turnout was massive and we had a great time! It’s amazing to see the rewards of your work unfold. Being an interfaith peer educator has also helped me meet several people that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise! I can’t wait to see what I can do over the following terms with this opportunity!

What advice would you give to new Knox students?

Be curious. There is so much to do on the Knox campus, and so many places to learn and grow. It is amazing how we can learn so much just by being around campus. At the same time, don’t do something simply because other people are doing it. Do what makes sense to you and that you are comfortable doing. 

I would also take a class with Gina Franco, professor of English. She gives some of the best feedback I have ever received in class. She gets you to think and churn out the best ideas that you can. I have reflected deeply on my work and grown phenomenally with her help.

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Printed on Friday, July 19, 2024