UNCP Teaching Fellows talk about college choices


A University-record 16 North Carolina Teaching Fellows chose to attend The University of North Carolina at Pembroke this fall.


UNCP’s record-breaking Teaching Fellows freshman class -- Front row from left: Gertie Parker, Brittany Raines, Kayla Mills, Nakia Lane, Jennie Harris, Whiney Jones, Ashley Allen and Kelsey Harris; second row from left: William Flores, Nicolette Hunt, Heather Knotts, Marissa Pounders, Jacklyn Ray and Meaga:n Hardin; Back row from left: Amy Taylor, Andrew Williams

It’s no secret that North Carolina colleges and universities – 18 in all - compete for this elite group of 500 scholars per year. In interviews with UNCP Teaching Fellows this fall, they talked about why they picked UNCP and their experiences here.

UNCP Teaching Fellows said their expectations for small classes, caring professors and a supportive, close-knit learning community are being met. Here are some highlights:

  • “I knew I wanted to go to a smaller university.”
  • “.. an obvious choice”
  • “excellent professors”
  • “beautiful campus”
  • “We support each other.”
  • “We are a family within a school.”
  • “It’s a growing program.”
  • “UNCP reminds me of home.”
  • “Everything I do with Teaching Fellows is meaningful and will greatly help me   when I get in the classroom.”
  • “It gives the hands-on experience that teachers need to become teachers.”
  • “I’m honestly very proud of myself.”

The goal of the program is to attract some of the best high school students into the teaching profession. The incentives for Teaching Fellows are substantial including an annual $6,500 scholarship for four years. The payback is a four-year commitment to teaching in the public schools.

Entrance into the program, which was established in 1986, is competitive and once admitted Teaching Fellows are offered choices among 18 public and private colleges and universities in North Carolina.

North Carolina Teaching Fellows score over 1,100 on SATs, have a high school GPA of 4.0 (weighted) or higher and rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

“The NC Teaching Fellows Program enriches the academic and cultural life of our University,” said Karen Granger, UNCP’s Teaching Fellows coordinator.

 “In addition to the campus enrichment, the state provides students with summer enrichment opportunities after the freshman, sophomore, and junior years,” she added.

Teaching Fellows at UNCP are provided a laptop computer and leadership, cultural, social and travel opportunities are among the perquisites. They traveled to Boston in 2006 and New York in 2007.

The University has also built a Teaching Fellows’ “learning community.” They live together in UNCP’s newest residence hall and take selected classes together. 

“Through seminars, activities and the learning community, our students have the opportunity to get to know one another and form lifelong contacts,” Granger said. “New freshmen enter each fall with an instant ‘family.’
“The University and its School of Education work hard to create excellent opportunities for these students to develop their academic, social and cultural skills so that when they enter a classroom, they are the best teacher they can be,” she continued. “The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship is an excellent opportunity for those students who want to teach.”

The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship provides $6,500 a year for four years to 500 outstanding N.C. high school seniors. 

In interviews in fall 2007, five Teaching Fellows were asked why they chose UNCP and, more importantly, if the University has fulfilled their expectations of higher education.

Here are their testimonials:

Grey Sweeney.  “I am a sophomore English education major, I want to teach high school students. I am from Lumberton (N.C.). The classes here are not only challenging and rewarding but enjoyable too. I have had some excellent professors since I have been here especially in the English Department. I chose UNCP because I felt that I could receive a great education here, but I would not have to give up my personal identity; I would not simply be a number. I knew that I wanted to attend a smaller university and that simply was not an option with the other state-supported universities in North Carolina, so I chose UNCP for not only its commitment to excellence, but also its commitment to its students. The School of Education has been ranked among top universities in this state, sometimes receiving higher marks than our larger counterparts. So, for one hoping to become a teacher, UNCP is an obvious choice. The Teaching Fellows program at UNCP is an excellent program. I am fortunate to be a part of it. I came to college and automatically walked into a social group full of young people with whom I could relate.”

Matthew Blue. “I am from Pembroke (N.C.). I am a senior, secondary mathematics education major and music minor. I chose UNCP because it is close to my home, has a beautiful campus, and its School of Education has a good reputation. I love being a Teaching Fellow at UNCP because we are a family within a school. We are always there to support each other, encourage each other, help each other, and love each other. Like all families we have our fights and disagreements, but that just helps us grow in love and get ready for the real world, which is not always kind and loving.

Samantha Baggett. “I'm a senior Teaching Fellow. I’m originally from a very small community called Plain View in Sampson County. I’m studying secondary science education with a concentration in earth science. I will graduate in December 2008. I chose UNCP because I wanted to be part of a smaller, more close-knit Teaching Fellows program. Also, it only takes me an hour to get home. I came from a small high school (Midway), and when deciding on college, I didn’t want to get lost on a large campus with many people. UNCP reminds me of home. Teaching Fellows is the greatest program an education student could be involved in. Everything I do with Teaching Fellows is meaningful and will greatly help me when I get in the classroom. This program has helped me to find people that I now call ‘family,’ and I have a large network that I can turn to when I need help in my future teaching career.”

Tianna Scriven.” I am a sophomorefrom Hope Mills (N.C.) majoring in elementary education. I chose UNCP because I felt like I would get a good education here. The small class sizes were what appealed to me the most. UNCP was my first choice because even though it’s a small campus, it competes with some of the best in the state. Teaching Fellows is a growing program at UNCP. This fall, the largest number ever of freshmen teaching fellows entered the program. This year is also the largest the program has ever been since it began. I believe that Teaching Fellows are an important part of the University because they continually strive to represent UNCP to the fullest.”

Jennifer Harris.  “I am a freshmen from Perquimans County, (about four hours northeast of here), and I am a social studies education major. The reason I chose UNCP, is really a strange story. I had applied to (NC) State in October and in January, I still had heard nothing, so I applied to East Carolina and Appalachian State. Then, one night my mom was looking on the Teaching Fellows Website and it mentioned UNCP. I am part Cherokee, and she wanted me to look at UNCP’s rich Native American history.  So I put in an application. I heard back within two weeks before I heard from anywhere else. I thought to myself, I applied to State eight months ago, and East Carolina and Appalachian two months ago. So, I said to myself ‘if it’'s going to take this long to be important to them I don’t really want to go there anyway.’ I told the admissions office I was coming before I ever saw UNCP. When I did, I wasn’t intimidated by the small town atmosphere. In fact, it reminds me strangely of home. It just seems to fit. As for Teaching Fellows, I am pleased that I got it. I am extremely happy about the program. It does a lot. It gives the hands-on experience that teachers need to become teachers. I’m honestly very proud of myself.”

For more information about Teaching Fellows at UNCP, please call 910.521.6495 or email teaching.fellows@uncp.edu.