Monday, March 28, 2016

Leadership lived: Future teacher learns important lessons at UIS


Kendra Baber loves to learn and share her knowledge with others. The University of Illinois Springfield history major wants to become a middle or high school teacher.

At UIS, Baber is vice president of the Alternative Spring Break volunteer organization and the History Club. She is also a Capital Scholars Honors Program peer mentor and volunteers with Dance Marathon, an organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Baber recently returned from an Alternative Spring Break trip to New York City. A group of 26 students spent the week working with the homeless in soup kitchens and other social service agencies.

“I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I became more of a leader,” she said.

Baber has been on three Alternative Spring Break trips, starting with a trip to Washington, D.C. where she also helped the homeless in 2014. Last year, she traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi where students helped with early childhood education and ecological sustainability projects.

“For me these trips are really influential,” she said. “I think when you sign up for a trip like this you think you’re going into a community and you’re the one that’s changing things within that setting, but really these people are changing you and helping you grow as a person.”

As a teacher, Baber will use what she’s learned on the Alternative Spring Break trips to try and help students who are facing hunger or homelessness.

“Because of these trips, I understand homelessness and poverty in a better way and I am more understanding to the situation they are going through and feel better prepared to help them work through that part of their life,” she said.

Baber is confident she made the right decision in choosing UIS and feels well prepared for her future career in education.

“I chose UIS because it’s a small welcoming community,” she said. “I visited some other colleges before I decided about UIS, but when I came here I automatically felt welcomed and loved and I felt this was a place that would give me opportunities to succeed and be the best person I could be.”

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