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  • Writer's pictureStudent Ambassadors

Just as Valid: Alanna Steele

Updated: May 10, 2023

Wisconsin native, Alanna Steele is a senior at BYU studying Special Education with an emphasis in severe disabilities.

While Alanna wasn't always sure Special Education was her end goal, she new she wanted to "support minority groups and give extra love to those who need it." Taking this caring mindset with her, Alanna served a mission in Russia and learned the difficult language as missionaries tend to do. But Alanna's language learning led her to a discovery that would change the course of her college career, and focus her support and love on one specific group of people. Alanna shares that the word for 'handicapped' in Russian sounds similar to the English word 'invalid.'" This association rubbed her wrong. Alanna says, "I didn't like the implication that a person with disabilities is any less valid than anyone else." After making this discovery she explored several different paths, ultimately, determining special education to be the perfect fit.

Though a good part of her time and effort is spent preparing for her future as a special educator, Alanna is also a mother. Her daughter, born just this last year, has added to Alanna's list of accomplishments making her not only a full-time student, but also a full-time mother. She likes to spend time with her little family, enjoying the outdoors with her daughter and husband, but also making time for a good TV show. With a new addition to the family, she has found online learning to be a blessing, allowing her to study full-time and care for her daughter.

Alanna shares some great advice for her peers in and interested in the major. She says to "remember why you chose this major. It can be challenging physically and emotionally, but we are making such a big impact on the lives of those we work with!" The demands of learning to teach children are far from childsplay. You're a lawyer, a psychologist, and a teacher with some in school practice, all wrapped up in a single bachelors degree. But Alanna emphasizes it is "so rewarding to see the growth of students in and out of school."


"We are making such a big impact on the lives of those we work with!"


Alanna herself has felt the demands of the major and the stress of raising a family while in school, but she remains excited for her opportunity to enter the field. Alanna looks forward to "working with young adults [...] and helping them transition to work and independent living."

While just any school would be lucky to educate such a caring person, BYU has brought Alanna a necessary fusion of spiritual and academic growth. She says that her "favorite thing about BYU is how academic learning is not separated from spiritual learning." Her gratitude for this incorporation of learning is evident as she speaks of her love for her family and her love for the major.

BYU is lucky to have Alanna as a student and will be lucky to have her as an alumni as she graduates and goes on to raise her family. With the care and love she shows for her future students, Alanna will be an influential teacher.

Come learn more about the SPED major and read about people like Alanna! You can Check out the major, meet with the SPED ambassador, or consider joining Best Buddies or SCEC.

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