Find the thing that fulfills you, the thing that makes you excited to wake up every morning. When you find it, the craziness of school, work, friendships, and outside activities, will all have a purpose.
Alyssa Ingrum stands apart from many of her peers in the College of Education. Admittedly, she never had aspirations of becoming a teacher when she was a young girl. Instead, the idea came to her in a dream, and she was moved by the fulfillment that could be achieved in special education. Fast-forward about four years later, and Ingrum is now a student-teacher at Bean Elementary in central Lubbock, where she works with special-needs children. Coming to the aid of others who are less fortunate, Ingrum and her friends through the nonprofit Project H2O have been raising money to build wells that provide clean drinking water to people in Africa. Ingrum also supports community service efforts undertaken by her sorority and represents her college as a senator in the Student Government Association.
Learn more about Student of Integrated Scholarship Alyssa Ingrum in this question-and-answer session.
What got you interested in your major?
I never really wanted to be a teacher until the spring semester of my freshman year, when I realized that my major at the time wasn't going to take me into a profession that I found fulfilling. One of my teachers at the time, who was probably having a rough day, told my class that the only thing you could do with a degree in that major was teach on the college level. I did not want to do that at all and was at a loss of what to do, especially since I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do when I "grew up." But fate stepped in, and I had a dream that night that I was a special education teacher. The next morning I changed my major, and I haven't looked back since!
What courses are you taking this semester?
This semester is unlike any other for me – I'm student teaching! I'm registered for twelve hours, nine of which are student teaching and three are for a class called Capstone. I'm in a special education classroom all day, every day.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
The most challenging course I took was required English freshman year. Everyone took the course, and it was not easy! English and writing were never my strong suit until I went through those classes. I worked so hard and finished with an A. It stuck with me. It's symbolic of what a high standard and quality instruction can bring to any student at any age. And now my writing is evidence of what one class can do for you!
Have you completed internships or had other work experience applicable to your field of study?
Student teaching is basically an internship for education majors. I do a lot of work with children outside of school, from nannying a young girl with cerebral palsy to volunteer opportunities locally and in Africa. These experiences weren't necessarily a part of the teacher educational curriculum but helped me in relationship-building with children.
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
Service projects at Texas Tech have resulted in some of my favorite memories over the past few years. Every year, my sorority hosts Tech Theta Speaks Up For Kids CASA 5K, which is a phenomenal event that makes a lasting impact on local children, families, and the community as a whole. I am a member of Best Buddies, which is an organization that fosters friendships between local adults with disabilities and college students. We do fun things like go bowling, have movie nights, and just be friends! The two that are most dear to my heart involve time spent in Zambia and my work with Project H20. For the last four summers, my family and I have gone to Zambia to do mission work with local orphans, and I've even sponsored and stayed pen pals with one sweet girl who I just adore. These trips mean the world to me and are so special to our family. From there, I decided to start Project H20. Project H20 is a registered nonprofit (and Tech organization) that is working to raise money and awareness about the world water crisis, which includes the fact that one in eight people around the world don't have access to clean drinking water, especially in Africa. We have already raised enough to build one well (which costs $5,000) and are more than halfway to a second!
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
Find the thing that fulfills you, the thing that makes you excited to wake up every morning. When you find it, the craziness of school, work, friendships, and outside activities, will all have a purpose. It's not going to be easy, but when it's something that fills your heart with joy, the hard work becomes something that flows out of delight and not compliance. It's done with love!
What are your plans after graduation?
I keep joking that I just want to get a job that pays, but honestly, my career goals pretty much fit where I already spend so much of my service time. Right now, I'm applying to graduate programs across the country, along with Teach For America. I have no idea where I'll be in six months, but that's half the excitement! If I go to graduate school, I'd pursue a master's in special education. If I sign up with Teach For America, I'd be spending two years in an urban setting, working with children from low-income families. Eventually, I would love to go back to Zambia and teach. The education system there is very poorly structured, corrupt, and inefficient. I long to bring the resources and skill set I have to make an impact there. I've also dreamed of starting a ministry for kids with special needs in Zambia. In third-world countries, many children born with disabilities have practically zero chance of survival for a variety of reasons. It would mean so much to me to see that change. Most importantly, I want to make an impact on people through caring that will transform future generations—that's the beauty of education!
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
I can't just list one! I'm a third-generation Red Raider, so walking the same campus, sharing the traditions and even the same dorm as my parents and grandfather have made these last four years all the more meaningful. The social aspects and learning experiences combined, resulted in an incredible transformation that represents irreplaceable years at Tech. It's a melting pot of everything!