Meet one of our outstanding December 2021 University Honors graduates: senior Rebecca Braun, who is graduating with a B.A. in English Teaching and minors in Theatre Arts-Teaching and Spanish.
Before settling on an education major, Braun explored various other paths, including theatre. Instead of regretting these experiences, Braun believes those experiences will help her be a well-rounded teacher.
Braun’s honors courses similarly gave her the chance to dig into topics beyond her major and develop new interests that she will be able to share in her classroom. Braun notes one honors course in particular—”Taking the Measure of Sustainability,” taught by Dr. Jim Boulter, from Chemistry and Environmental Public Health. Every year, students in this course contribute to an ongoing project to measure the campus carbon footprint. Braun explains that she is “not much of a science-y person,” but this class gave her a safe space to discover a passion for sustainability and to learn about the science behind it.
Braun also took advantage of the opportunity to gain leadership skills through the Honors Program, by serving as a peer mentor for Honors 100, the Honors First-Year Seminar, and as a peer tutor for Muggle Magic, a 100-level honors course on Harry Potter. These experiences gave Braun the chance to hone her teaching skills in new environments—such as figuring out how to engage first-year students in the challenging circumstances of Fall 2020, when classes were online for part of the semester.
Braun has also been a familiar face around Bridgman Hall, home of the Honors Living Learning Community. As a first-year student, she joined the Honors LLC, where she met most of her current friends. Even after moving out the next year, Braun picked up work as a Hall Administrative Assistant and other jobs around Bridgman. These positions kept her connected to the Honors LLC, a community she valued so much as a first-year student.
Braun also explored beyond our campus by studying abroad in Costa Rica. For 2 months pre-pandemic, she lived with a host family while taking Spanish grammar courses as well as a Latin American history class.
Back in Wisconsin, Braun is currently student teaching at South Middle School. Ultimately, she wants to be placed in a high school where she can teach English and after-school theatre. Her father is a high school theatre teacher and Braun recalls the positive memories and skills gained while she participated in musicals and plays. Braun wishes to somewhat continue on her dad’s path so that she can “impact the next generation of students” by paying it forward to students like her. Braun already made a start at continuing this legacy even while still at UWEC, through her work mentoring new first-year honors students.
Braun’s post-graduation plans continue to develop: she is still on the fence about whether she will feel most at home in high school or middle school teaching, and she is considering going back to school to earn a master’s in children’s literature. She advises new Blugolds to “be open to change and learning.” Braun tells us that she “changed [her] perspectives and ideas a lot throughout college” as she learned and grew.