Kristen Oliveira ’17
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
At Bay Path, my natural instinct to take charge developed into real skill in leadership.
I grew up in western Massachusetts. Since I’m local, I’ve always known of Bay Path. Initially, though, I went to a college in Boston, but it wasn’t the right fit for me. My sophomore year, I chose to attend Bay Path because of its location to surrounding colleges, the outstanding reputation of the education department, and for the support I received from advisors during the transfer process. And as I continued my studies here, I grew to love this University more and more.
I’ve always had a knack for connecting with children and finding ways to explain things in a simple way, so I decided to major in elementary education. I really got my footing in the field during my senior year through my leadership project, “Introducing College Options to Fifth Graders.” I chose this topic because as a junior/senior in high school, I felt unprepared for college. I had no idea what to look for, what questions to ask, or where to even start. I felt tremendous pressure, as if I should’ve known all the answers. As a result, I ended up at a college that was not the right fit for me. So, I developed this project because I wanted to “plant the seed” of college exploration in the fifth graders I was working with as a student teacher.
My project was derived from a program written for eighth graders by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. I adapted its lessons and activities for my fifth grade class, splitting the activities into five sessions with different objectives. The first lesson was focused on each student’s individual goals to get them thinking about their future in a fun, interactive way. The students explored their interests and created their own business cards. In the second session, we answered the question, “Should I go to college?” I asked the students what they thought of when they heard the word “college” and the most common responses were “work, money, and smart”- accurate.
In the third session, the students looked at the different aspects of college such as housing, size, location, diversity, major, and activities, and learned how to find their best fit. They created treasure maps of their exploration, and their “treasure” was their college choice. I’m happy to say that I had a Bay Path treasure chest! The fourth and fifth sessions focused on looking at personal learning styles. The students took a quiz to find out what type of learner they are: visual, auditory, or sensory. For example, if a student found that they were an auditory learner, they would look at a list of aids and see that they may enjoy reading aloud, saying words in syllables, and creating rhymes. There were a lot of “ah ha!” moments during this lesson. This project was packed with information and activities for the students, and I truly believe that they gained a lot from it. And so did I! The experience challenged me to develop as a leader.
I’ve always been one to take charge, but at Bay Path, I reinforced and strengthened my cooperative skills. The college is filled with amazing women who are looking to better their lives, jobs, and educations, and I learned from my colleagues and professors that when we work together, we can reach common goals. I experienced this as an athlete as well, serving as co-captain of the field hockey team this past season.
Now that I’ve completed my bachelor’s degree, I will be continuing my education at Bay Path, pursuing a master’s degree in special education. One day, I hope to work as a behavioral specialist. The steps that I took during these past four years have helped me define this goal. I know that I will never stop learning and my goals may change with time, but I will always have a strong foundation thanks to Bay Path.