Jessica Burkett, an early childhood education major from Gibsonburg, Ohio, says The University of Findlay has helped her learn who she wants to be “through a variety of experiences that foster connections with people within campus, the surrounding community and globally.”
Though she originally entered UF as a physical therapy student, she began to reflect on what she enjoyed as a child and knew she needed to follow her original dream of becoming a teacher.
“Little did I know when I originally came to the University how the education department truly taps into the preparation of a teacher,” says Burkett. “Looking back, I am amazed at how everything fell right into place.”
Burkett’s involvement on campus spans from her work in the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations to her involvement in several student organizations including Students for Alumni Relations (S.T.A.R.), The University of Findlay Ohio Student Education Association (UFOSEA), Habitat for Humanity and the running club. Burkett says these opportunities have led to “personal growth and unforgettable memories.”
“I didn’t realize how much learning and growth would take place outside the classroom,” says Burkett. “The experience I was given during my time here has helped me evolve both as an educator and an individual.”
Burkett’s experience outside the classroom includes one week working with children in the inner city of Cleveland, several spring trips with the University’s Habitat for Humanity group, a cultural exchange trip to South Korea with the College of Education, a mission trip to Haiti and involvement in the Chinju University of Education (CUE) Ambassador Program which connects UF students with students from Chinju University in South Korea.
Burkett says that these opportunities have nurtured her passion for service.
“All throughout high school I knew I had a passion for helping others, but I didn’t know where to volunteer outside of occasional opportunities within school,” says Burkett. “[Habitat for Humanity] and Campus Compact have given me the chance to get off campus to continue serving others.”
Burkett will continue her passion for service as an educator when she graduates in December. She thanks the abundance of faculty members who have inspired and supported her throughout her learning experience at the University.
“The people who have mentored me and inspired me are not only within the College of Education but also within other offices at the University,” says Burkett. “During my time at UF, I have grown to understand the precious gift of simply holding a conversation with someone. Each mentor here has nurtured that appreciation.”
Burkett advises incoming and prospective students to make the most of their time at the University. Her advice is to “be stretched outside your comfort zone” and “get involved in a variety of activities.”
“I sincerely hope that each student at the University has an opportunity to participate in some type of cultural experience because there are so many people in this world and, by embracing that, we can learn more about ourselves and others,” says Burkett.
By Katie Baumgart