Casey Ansaldo is graduating from Mercer University with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in early childhood education/special education.
What are your plans after graduation?
My immediate plans after graduation are to search for a certified teaching position. Times are tough right now, but, having received my education from Mercer, I am a top candidate for districts looking to hire new teachers.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
My favorite professor is Dr. Sara Luke. She was a game changer in my education here at Mercer. She is the type of professor you wish all professors were. To name a few reasons, she is so kindhearted and personable from the moment you meet her. She chooses to see and treat you as a person, not as a student. She is invested in you and your personal life and wants to help you in anyway she can, even outside of the classroom. She is the type of professor that will email you on weekends to see how you are doing if she knows times are tough. She will meet you where you are in life, yet sets high expectations for you and helps you achieve them. If you ever need someone, email Dr. Luke.
What is one of your favorite Mercer memories?
Being a Regional Academic Center (RAC) student, I had a nontraditional experience and did not go to the Macon Mercer campus. However, I made incredible memories with incredible people at my campus. I would have to say that my favorite Mercer memory was walking down a hallway on my campus and seeing the pictures on the wall of graduates at a Mercer graduation ceremony. I remember passing by it every day and being able to say, “That is going to be me.” Those pictures gave me hope and confidence going to and from my classes every day, even when times were hard and I lost my joy. I knew that if those smiling, happy, successful people in those pictures could do it, so could I.
How do you plan on changing the world?
Through my education at Mercer, I began to understand myself as a future educator. My philosophy, both in life and as a teacher, is to see people as human beings and not as labels. Much of what I love about Dr. Luke is what I want to be. I vow to change the world by being a teacher that meets my students where they are but pushes them for greatness. I will treat them as human beings, and understand that every person is different and has different needs. I will learn my students and get to know them on a level deeper than the surface, and use this to be a better teacher for them. I want to be the teacher they remember who truly loved them for who they are and pushed them to be the best version of themselves that they could be.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
My advice for incoming students — whether you are a traditional student joining as a freshman or a non-traditional student joining with an associate’s degree, other college credits, spouse or children with the dream of furthering your education — is YOU CAN DO IT. There were some times when it seemed impossible. I would cry on my way home feeling as though I couldn’t do it. There may come a time for you, too, when you feel as though you can’t do it anymore, but I am here to assure you that you truly can. Half of my cohort were mothers, some worked full time, others not at all, some were over the age of 50 and some were under the age of 25 (myself included). We all came from different places in life but ended up at the finish line together.
What makes Mercer special to you?
Mercer is special to me because I never thought I would return to school to receive my bachelor’s degree, but I did. I had completed my associate’s degree elsewhere and never wanted to go back. However, Mercer’s ease and flexibility in joining the program was the push I needed to continue moving further. The education program has absolutely incredible professors who truly want to see you succeed. I was considered a non-traditional student since I joined as a married woman working a full-time job that was essential to our income. Mercer offered the night classes at their various campuses that made it possible for me to continue my education. Mercer is special to me because it supported and pushed me to change my life for the better.
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