Full name: Julissa Collazo (she/her)
Major(s)/minor(s): Elementary Education with a Diverse Learners minor
Graduation year: 2021
Employer name and title: MSD Washington Township, Third Grade Teacher

What interested you in your declared major/minor? 

I grew up in a family of teachers as far back as my paternal great-grandmother. Educating is in my blood and it is what I had always seen myself doing.

What experiential-focused opportunities did you have with your declared major/minor?

What stood out most to me, and the reason why I chose Butler for undergrad, were the hundreds of hours Education majors spent in classrooms throughout their four years. In my first semester, I was already in classrooms observing teachers and interacting with students throughout Indianapolis. Most colleges do not even allow you to visit classrooms until your senior year.

As a junior, I met one-on-one with a student in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), teaching him reading and comprehension strategies. As a senior, I student taught for 32 weeks—one semester in IPS in a virtual first-grade classroom and one semester in Washington Township where I am now employed.

Besides the traditional classroom experience, I was also able to teach in places around the city—like The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis—to provide children with STEM experiences.

What do you do in your current position and how did Butler prepare you for it?

In my current position, I teach third grade in MSD Washington Township. Last year, I was recognized by my district as the elementary school’s Outstanding First Year Teacher of the year. Butler helped prepare me for this through the hundreds of hours in classrooms around the city. Additionally, having two full semesters of student teaching gave me the time and experience to explore my identity as an educator.The courses offered by the College of Education don’t just teach education majors how to teach, but dig into why we teach. For me, that was the most important piece that has allowed me to build relationships with my students and help them grow, not only academically, but as people.

What are your long-term career goals?

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work is why I became a teacher. I believe all children deserve the right to quality education. Long-term, I would love to give back to my community by providing equitable learning opportunities for all children through a community organization or museum educational programming team.

What advice would you give a first-year student as you reflect back on your experience at Butler?

My advice to first-year students would be that it’s okay to change your mind. I changed my major from Secondary Education to Sociology Pre-Law to Elementary Education. Sometimes it takes taking risks and exploring your options before you find what you love.Additionally, as a former Resident Assistant, I would tell first-year students to utilize your resources. Go to the Writer’s Studio for writing help, participate in mock interviews at the Career and Professional Success Office, and go to Irwin Library to study. You’re paying for these spaces, so utilize them.