Mikaela Ramsey has wanted to be an educator since she first set foot in a classroom at age 5.
“I loved school, and I always loved my teachers,” said Ramsey, who grew up in Findlay, Ohio. “I wanted to be bilingual and be able to connect to kids who speak Spanish.”
Since enrolling at Notre Dame, she’s been preparing for that career in the classroom. And far beyond.
For Ramsey, now a senior, that preparation has included majoring in sociology and concentrating in Spanish. To gain additional knowledge, skills, and experience, she’s taken courses in the education, schooling, and society program and she was an Alliance for Catholic Education intern. Recently, she’s worked as a substitute teacher.
“Fifth grade is definitely where it’s at,” she said. “I loved it. They were great and I liked the course content.”
The College of Arts and Letters has provided Ramsey with the opportunity to explore every topic she’s wanted to, and “even the things that I wanted and I did not even know that I wanted.”
She appreciates the ability to take myriad courses, discover what resonates, and forge her unique path. That path has included math classes and a community-based writing and rhetoric course during which she did a project on environmental racism and volunteered at a nearby farm. Ramsey has maintained a friendship with the farmer and still visits to help her with work and to ride horses.
“It was just so cool to have that class help me build a relationship with someone in the community that has lasted,” Ramsey said. “I feel like one of the most important things about learning is that you actually like what you’re learning.”
That’s also been her experience in the one-credit Center for Social Concerns (CSC) seminars that prepare students to work for justice and pursue the common good.
“They’re awesome and there’s so many different ones,” she said. “I’m sure everyone can find one that pertains to one of their interests, and if you can’t find one, then maybe that’s exactly why you need to be in one. I’ve never taken a bad one, and I’m like, ‘Why are these not required?’”
She’s also enjoyed exploring courses outside her major areas of focus, including the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre course Performing Blackness: From Othello to Jay-Z with associate professor La Donna Forsgren.
Ramsey said faculty have been impactful for her outside of class, too.
When she had to return home from studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, due to the pandemic, professors with already full classrooms welcomed her to join so that she could stay on track to graduate.
And when she took a break from college to focus on her mental health, Ramsey’s professors were supportive and kind.
“I’m so appreciative of the people in Arts and Letters, both faculty and staff. They were so helpful, especially during my leave of absence.” she said. “They really helped me see that it’s OK to take a break, and that it’s OK to come back when you’re ready. They were just really great through that whole process.”