Scholarships Serve as Springboard for Alumna’s CareerFebruary 23, 2015

The English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta has thousands of members across the world.  Out of all of these competitors, Rockhurst graduate Laura Williams, '14, had the incredible honor of winning both the Senior Scholarship and the P.C. Somerville Award through Rockhurst’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter. She said this high honor changed her life by allowing her to get even more out of her education at Rockhurst and fulfill her dream of becoming an English teacher, now at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Elva Bell McLin Senior Scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate academic scholarship and commitment to service.  The P.C. Somerville Award is given to students who demonstrate academic achievement, chapter service, and a dedication to teaching.

“Sigma Tau Delta has done so much for me as a student, as a writer, and now as a teacher,” Williams said. She attended two Sigma Tau Delta conventions, and presented a paper at the convention in Savannah, Georgia, in spring 2014.

Williams became interested in education due to her insatiably curious disposition; she said she always enjoyed reading and learning. After helping her peers with homework in high school and working in Rockhurst’s Aylward-Dunn Learning Center as a writing tutor, she realized that she found it more fulfilling to help instill knowledge in others than to simply accumulate knowledge for herself. So she decided to pursue a career in education.

“Each day comes with its own challenges, but it also comes with fresh reasons to feel gratitude,” says Williams regarding her first time teaching. “It is exciting and a little surreal.”

So far, she has covered Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace, some of her favorite books, with her students. She has also been invited to be the faculty moderator of the creative writing club, and this has easily become one of the best parts of her job. 

Williams indicates that Rockhurst played a significant role in helping her achieve her goals by providing professors who expressed an interest in getting to know her as a person, shared their passion with her, and taught her to integrate the value of reflection and discernment in her work.  Rockhurst also cultivated a sense of confidence in her as far as creating content because she was required to prepare lesson plans, units, and assessments as part of her class assignments. Working in the Aylward-Dunn Learning Center gave her skills essential to improving others’ learning as well as taught her how to practice making connections and developing different teaching tactics for different kinds of learners. Williams’ experiences with student teaching at Bishop Miege High School ultimately prepared her the most for teaching, and even taught her a lot about herself.

“To any Hawks getting started in the education program, congratulations!” Williams said. “You are choosing a profession that will never stop pushing you to grow in courage, compassion, and creativity. When (well-meaning) people ask you over and over again if you’re really sure you want to be a teacher, remember that you’re not alone in making this mad, marvelous choice. We’re proud of you. Students are the future, and there is nothing like helping to form the future every day.”

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