One of the best parts about being a student ambassador is getting to meet the amazing students we have in the McKay School of Education (MSE)! I had the absolute privilege of sitting down (through Zoom of course) and getting to know Reilly Pankratz, a senior in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program we have here at BYU!
Reilly's love for education started when helping her mom, a BYU education alumni, in her classroom! She had a lot of opportunities to volunteer and this sparked a love for teaching within Reilly. Oh, and did I mention this was in Europe?! Yup! Reilly grew up in Germany and England. She also later served a mission in the Czech Republic, so she is fluent in English, German, French, and Czech! After her mission and working as a Teacher's Aide, Reilly hopped on a plane to come and join us in the MSE.
Starting with that day on the plane, Reilly knew that there were going to be negative stereotypes to overcome with majoring in education. She told me the following story: "I was telling somebody that I wanted to be a teacher and he said, ‘Are you going to BYU for the degree or are you going for your MRS degree?’ because a lot of people go to BYU and they major in elementary education or ECE or whatever to get married. So, I think that we face a lot of stereotypes as women in the Church majoring in teaching because it seems like that’s the mom degree, but I think it helped me to realize that we have a divine nature to be motherly and an opportunity through teaching to be motherly to our students. We need to realize that it’s okay for that stereotype to exist, but what matters is what approach or what we will do with our education that we receive at BYU. We felt really prompted to have a baby and I was planning on doing the internship and trying to have a family after, then things changed a little bit. This past year especially has helped me to realize that everything I am learning I can always apply to my life as well as teaching. So, everything we are learning at BYU is not only for our career path, but it just for our lives in general."
Reilly does not regret her choice to major in education because she knows that these lessons will help her raise her new daughter, Penelope, as well as progress through life.
Coming to BYU, Reilly was actually majoring in Elementary Education, because like many other students, she didn't know ECE was a major! She learned about it when she was working as a Teacher's Aide at the BYU Preschool and met the ECE practicum students. She chose to switch because she "love[s] that it is really focused on child development." She went on to say that she thinks "it is important to understand... the 'why' behind children in order to better help them. Having a better understanding of their development and what's going on in their minds and with their bodies can help you to be a better teacher and better teach towards their needs." Reilly suggests that if you are more interested in the human development aspect of teaching, then ECE is the right major for you as well! That is why she switched!
Reilly's advice to other students is to simply get time in the classroom! This will help you find out who you want to be as a teacher and if this is the right path for you. Teachers are important and we need you. Reilly said "I think we are forever impacted by the teachers we had as children... I think that we have the opportunity to focus on helping children to gain self-confidence and courage... I think that teachers can help students to cope with their emotions and be better prepared for what will happen ahead of them in their lives."
Reilly is looking forward to possibly teaching while her husband is in grad school and then staying home with her adorable Penelope. Although COVID has made the future uncertain, Reilly is taking it head-on with excitement and faith that things will turn out okay!
Want to learn more about ECE and how you can help children just like Reilly? Check out the major here, meet with an advisor here, or chat with one of our student ambassadors here!