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Victoria Bernero
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

 Victoria Bernero

Graduation year: 2024

High school: IC Catholic Prep

Hometown: Addison, Ill.

Major: Middle grades English; English education

Activities: Women's club volleyball, intramural sports, SAGA literary magazine, Club Ed

Internship: Student teaching at Bettendorf (Iowa) Middle School

Post-grad plans: Teaching English in a middle school somewhere near my hometown

Why Augustana?

Augustana was on my list of potential schools because I liked the smaller size and liberal arts approach to education that it offered. I didn't want to feel like a number in college, and I hoped to belong to a community where I could create strong connections and feel supported by my professors and advisors. 

I ultimately made my decision after visiting campus one day during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Even without a formal tour, I could tell I would feel comfortable here. I was right!

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

I have definitely exceeded my own expectations of where I thought I'd be. Not only am I getting my degree, but I have been able to pursue opportunities that I never would have imagined for myself. For example, I never thought studying abroad would be something I could do, or that I would get to play and coach a sport I love throughout college. 

Beyond this, my confidence has a grown tremendously, and I feel more competent and capable than ever before.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I would not be where I am today without my faith in God, who has been an anchor for me whenever I feel overwhelmed or uncertain. I also have an amazing close circle of family, friends and a significant other who supported me along the way. 

Beyond this, the professors and staff in the education department, especially Katie Hanson, who have constantly encouraged me to try new things and grow and reflect on the values that I have about teaching. 

Finally, the teachers and students I've worked with throughout my clinical and student teaching experiences, who have impacted me in more ways than I could ever put into words.

Peak experience?

My study abroad trip to Jamaica. I really never considered studying abroad before college because it didn't seem financially "practical." However, using my Augie Choice to help cover the costs really helped me, and I learned that the experiences I would have in Jamaica were priceless. I met so many wonderful people there and expanded my appreciation of a new culture, all while growing in my teaching practices.

What surprised you?

I was surprised by how many opportunities I was presented with these past four years. I have always understood my strengths and weaknesses, and it was like Augie could offer me things that would help me grow as a person as well as a professional. I pursued many of these throughout my four years here, and I am extremely glad that I did.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice for the Jamaica study abroad trip, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in education. Drs. Egan and Scarlett did a wonderful job preparing us by educating us on Jamaican history, language and culture. They were amazing mentors on the island as well.

What will you miss the most?

I will honestly miss walking to classes, the library and the gym; to and from the Brew; and other spots on campus that have helped to make Augie feel like home for me. Your daily commute might feel boring at the time, but those little moments are when I learned to feel most at peace. 

I will also miss living with my awesome roommates and traveling with the volleyball team. These people have added so much joy and laughter to my time at Augie, and I am very thankful for them.

Advice for the Class of 2028?

Milk these next four years for everything you can and don't take anything for granted! Each new class you take, friend you make or opportunity you are presented with is a chance for you to grow as a person. Know your "why" for being here, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

"Victoria Bernero is going to rock as an English teacher. She is intelligent and curious. She reads for fun, she is creative, and she loves her students. I have enjoyed supporting her goals and dreams as her advisor and teacher these past three years. I will miss our long conversations about teaching and learning and life. I hope she stays in touch to keep me updated on how she is out there, changing the world."

– Katie Hanson, associate professor, education and English