Student Spotlight: Emily Witek
Major: Teacher Preparation
Emily Witek readily admits to being a menace when she was in first grade. But it was the influence of her teacher that changed her attitude about education.
“I was not a fan of school or respecting authority, for that matter,” she said. “I don’t know how she did it, but my first grade teacher made me see how I could make the most of my days at school and how my attitude would affect my success. She really got me involved in helping her out with classroom tidiness, and I felt my presence was important. I went from rotten egg to teacher’s pet but, more importantly, my teacher shaped the way I looked at education and influenced the amount of effort I put in.
“She also made me realize I wanted to do the same thing for a child. I now know I want to be an elementary school teacher and pave the way to success for kids who don’t see their potential. I have so much going for me in my life, and some would think it’s silly to attribute a lot of that to one of my first teachers, but I honestly believe I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her influence in my life.”
Witek entered the Teacher Preparation program at College of DuPage. She’s paying for her own college, and being named a Presidential Scholar – and impressive award that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society – helped her save for her transfer institution.
After graduating from COD with highest honors, Witek transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, with a concentration in Spanish and endorsements to teach middle school science, language arts and social studies. She finished at UIUC with a 4.0 GPA and was a Bronze Tablet recipient for being in the top 3 percent of her graduating class.
Witek is currently an eighth grade science and social studies teacher in Wheaton. She knows teaching will be a life-long career and enjoyed her time at College of DuPage, which provided opportunities for educational and personal growth.
“Personally, I learned how to be more independent by going to COD. Educationally, I was able to take classes that were actively engaging and challenging. They applied to my major and transferred to U of I,” she said. “It was great being at one of the best community colleges out there.”
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