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Erica Smith
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Erica Smith

Graduation year: 2023

High school: Bartlett High School

Hometown: Bartlett, Ill.

Majors: Secondary math education, middle grades math education, mathematics

Activities: Campus Ministries, POST Scholar

Internships: Student teaching at Moline Senior High School

Post-grad plans: Teaching math at the middle school or high school level

Why Augustana?

From the moment I stepped onto Augustana's campus, I felt at home. I knew that at Augustana, I would be more than just a name on a class roster. I recognized the opportunity I had to connect with my peers and professors to get the most out of my college experience. Life at Augustana has exceeded all of my expectations.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

I have grown more than I thought possible during my time here. I have become more confident, learned how to continue to ask questions, and discovered the value of engaging in meaningful conversations with the people around me.

I feel prepared to begin my career and am confident that my time at Augustana has been monumental in shaping who I am both personally and professionally.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I could not have gotten to this point without the support of my family, friends, peers, professors and mentors.

My education and math professors maintained high expectations while providing me with the support I needed to reach my ultimate goals. Their unwavering belief in me allowed for a learning environment in which I felt safe to take risks and be challenged. They taught me resilience and the power of asking questions.

My friends and peers made my time at Augustana so much fun. Whether it was studying in the Brew, attending sporting events or exploring campus, my friends were always there to motivate and support me.

Campus Ministries was a community in which I grew spiritually and personally. I felt encouraged to wrestle with my doubts and be myself.

Throughout my whole life, my family has always been a huge support to me. I would not be where I am today without their unconditional love and support.

Peak experience?

My peak experience was definitely my time student teaching at Moline High School.

After three years of developing my skills as an educator, it was incredible to put those skills to use in a real classroom. This experience solidified my vocation as a teacher and shaped my view of the profession. I developed wonderful relationships with students and colleagues that continue to motivate me as I move into this next stage of my life.

What surprised you?

I was surprised to see how much I have been able to achieve during my four years at Augustana. College has challenged me in a way that nothing else has before, but each challenge provided an opportunity to learn and develop resilience. I graduate knowing that I am more capable than I could have ever imagined.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the community that I have been a part of at Augustana. Many of the connections that I have made inspire me to keep learning, growing and experiencing. I will miss being a part of a community that looks out for each other, challenges one another and grows together. The people of Augustana really are some of the greatest people I have had the opportunity to get to know.

Advice for the Class of 2027?

Do not be afraid of failure. If you knew how to do everything perfectly, there would be no room for you to grow. Remember that failure is the most impactful way to learn. Do not run from mistakes. Embrace failure and surround yourself with people who help you get back up and try again.

"Erica brings energy and joy into the classroom with her. In class she is focused and engaged, and her insightful questions motivate others to participate. She works hard outside of the classroom as well, which helps put her at the top of the class. Erica's enthusiasm, strong math skills and passion for learning make her the perfect person to inspire future generations. I hope she sends us all of her future protégés!"

– Dr. Stacey Rodman, professor, mathematics and computer science