#StudentsofMI

Students of MI: Hannah

“I wouldn’t say college was expected of me, but my parents put a lot of emphasis on it. My dad earned his associate degree and my mom only took a few classes at a community college. They both struggled to get where they are, so they taught me that education is the key to make your future easier. They worked hard so that my siblings and I could go get a better future.

A few Western Michigan University alumni worked at my high school, and one was working in the special education classroom. Through a buddies program there, I was able to mentor and become friends with students while helping them with their classwork. That opportunity helped me realize I wanted to work with kids with autism, and the Western alum told me, “If you want to work with the special education population, if you want to do anything with autism, you need to go to Western.” So, I came to Western Michigan University and I haven’t looked back.

A few things have changed, like what I wanted my future career to be, but Western has been able to accommodate and help me explore all my options. Now, I’m studying Behavioral Science, which is a discipline of psychology.

Most people wouldn’t think that psychology students really have a say in education, but we actually have a lot of great research about learning. I will be studying Organization Behavior Management in my graduate program here at Western, which is where psychologists enter a workplace to create more supportive work environments, training programs, and work with management and incoming teams to improve overall morale and performance. I want to apply that framework to schools.

We have a lot of unhappy teachers and struggling students in Michigan. If teachers are helping prepare our future generations, shouldn’t they be happy, and shouldn’t students be well educated? I believe if we can adapt this successful business consulting approach and use the best practices inside schools, it would make the workplace happier, which benefits administrators, teachers and students. So, I’m going to study behavior analysis in graduate school and adapt it all for schools. That’s my game plan.

For incoming freshman, don’t say no to things just because it doesn’t fit your ideal schedule. You never know how the opportunities will help connect you with faculty, mentors and future opportunities. My freshman year I was a research assistant on Fridays. I remember trucking in from freshman dorms all the way to main campus in the freezing snow at 7:30 in the morning. A lot of my friends were like, why would you have taken that job? But that was my first research assistantship and the experience got me my following three research assistantships.”

(Hannah, Behavior Science, Western Michigan University)

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