MLA in Communication, 2009
My success story begins at ATU in the fall of 2000. I came to ATU on a Valedictorian scholarship, with AP credit in Spanish. Having several options from which to choose, I chose Tech for its distinguished language program, and because my mother, father, and grandfather had all gone to Tech. During my tenure as an undergraduate, I worked for the Foreign Languages and International Studies Department serving as a teaching assistant and lab instructor in Spanish. I declared a major of Spanish Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language. I enjoyed my undergraduate experiences and, in addition to the outstanding education, participated in extracurricular activities, which included holding the offices of President of the Tech Spanish Club and Vice- President of Young Democrats, and membership in Zeta Tau Alpha. I was elected as the Model New Member of ZTA in the spring of 2001, and eventually was elected Vice-President of ZTA Alumnae, forming life-long bonds of sisterhood.
In 2003 I graduated a year early, taking advantage of Tech's abundant summer course offerings. I began teaching high school Spanish and quickly added education certifications in Spanish, English, Speech, Theatre, ESL, and Journalism. I began mentoring student teachers from my alma mater, as well as novice teachers. As my career moved forward, I wanted to gain more education to help expand my horizons and increase my content knowledge. Therefore, I began to research different graduate programs that would encompass the wide variety of subjects that I teach. I chose the Master of Liberal Arts degree with an emphasis in Communication and English. This program allowed me to take several different humanities classes that related to my teaching. During this time, I served as President of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society (under the guidance of Dr. Enchelmayer), where I used my position to encourage others to investigate the opportunities that language provides. I published my creative writing in the Nebo Literary Magazine and began to research racism, feminism, imprisonment literature, language learning strategies, and a wide array of topics. The curriculum provided in Dr. Wilson's classes expanded not only my educational view, but also changed my vision of the world. Under the direction and trusted guidance of Dr. Gemme, I completed my thesis on teaching foreign language within a changing demographic, and I was awarded a master's degree, with a 4.0 GPA, in 2009. This thesis appears in the Tech library. I used the research from my thesis to influence the decisions I make while planning lessons for my students. It has greatly impacted my students' engagement in learning.
Because of my added knowledge in language, I have begun my candidacy for National Board Certification in Spanish Education. I have taught languages for eleven years, and currently teach Spanish and ESL at Russellville Junior High School. My students have won thirteen first place state titles and countless awards at foreign language competition. I am a member of Arkansas Foreign Language Teacher Association and ArkTESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) and also teach English at Tech as adjunct faculty.
ATU gave me a huge opportunity for success and continued learning, as well as provided me with career benefits that support my daughter's future. I hope that she will continue the tradition of attending Arkansas Tech University!
Danielle is married to Seth Stewart, (History and Political Science, 2012, Tech), and they have a daughter, Eden Maria.