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Elementary and Special Education major Maggie Walden works as a Teacher Aide at the Early Learning Center, a preschool located on the Harford Community College campus. "We have children ages 2 to 5 and I love every one of them."
Enrolling in a community college provided her with the opportunity to explore different fields at an affordable cost. She started at Harford as an art major; during that time, she helped organize and staff the student art exhibition. She also entered a t-shirt design contest and won a large supply of high quality art materials. But she decided to pursue a different career path and changed her major "I loved the art community and it was awesome being able to participate in the student exhibition. Now that I’m an education major, I've met a whole other group of amazing people who also love to work with children. My classmates and professors bond over shared experiences with teaching children."
Maggie loves the many opportunities Harford offers for students to meet new people, get involved, and learn about things students normally wouldn't learn in a classroom setting. She was a member of HCC’s team during this year's Alternative Winter Break in the Florida Keys. "Participating in this experience is more than worthwhile. It was a life-changing and eye-opening experience. Getting together with a group of strangers and traveling to Florida to clean up the Keys was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I made so many solid friendships on this trip while learning a lot about myself. This is a really good opportunity to get involved in the community college's student life." She also learned about the environment and the negative effects from plastic and other waste products that end up in the ocean. "Not only did we clean up trash, we learned about everything that went along with it. We worked alongside the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and they taught us everything we needed to know. Heck, now people mistake my friends and I as bio majors!"
After the trip, she and a few of the others from the HCC team presented at the College's STEM Day 2020 in February. The event, which was open to the public, showcased both student and faculty projects or research and provided updates about Harford's STEM programs. Maggie's group received a small trophy, a framed certificate and a gift certificate to the College Store. "I thought that was pretty awesome, but I also loved presenting what we learned and how this experience shaped us as students."
She's been very happy with her experience at the College and pleasantly surprised by how easy it's been to meet and connect with new people. "I can tell that Harford's putting in some solid effort to get their students to feel more connected and hang out on campus." She added, "I would definitely recommend Harford to others because of the awesome community here and how the professors actually want the students to do well and succeed. Harford is very welcoming, and I have learned so much from going to school here."
Maggie said, "There are so many people who have helped me along the way. One of them is my boss, Jen Eder (Early Learning Center Manager). She is always there to give advice about classes and to tell me to do my homework!" Caitlin White and Tami Imbierowicz, who chaperoned the trip to the Keys, also had a big impact on Maggie. "I haven't known them for very long, but that short week we all spent together inspired me to trust in myself more and live in the moment."
She's looking forward to her future career as a teacher, and her hands-on experience in the field will greatly help when she has a classroom of her own. Last semester she was an intern at North Harford Elementary school working alongside an amazing 5th grade teacher. This semester she's interning at the Arrow Center for Education in Belcamp to further her experience with teaching children, specifically students who require special education and one-on-one interactions.
Maggie is on track to complete an associate degree in fall 2020 and then she wants to transfer to either Salisbury or Frostburg to complete a bachelor's degree in elementary and possibly middle school education. She plans to pursue a career in Special Education.
"If I were to offer advice to other students, I would tell them to get involved! Even if it feels crazy at times to put yourself out there and go on a trip with random strangers, just do it! I tell myself that all the time. Sometimes it feels like all you do is go to class, go to work, and go home, but that gets exhausting! You need to go out there and meet people in order to make the most out of this community college experience."
The Early Learning Center is currently closed as part of Harford Community College's campus closure due to public health concerns surrounding COVID-19. The College is operating in an online learning and working environment through the remainder of the spring semester.
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