Ayonna Preston, a senior elementary education major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has been recognized for her inspirational speech about the importance of pursuing a career in education.
Preston, of Sherwood, won second place in the nation in the Educators Rising Moment Competition, which recognizes amazing students and aspiring educators for their outstanding work. Educators Rising is a Grow Your Own career and technical education program that inspires students to become educators.
The competition provides students at the Educators Rising National Conference the opportunity to talk about their goals in pursuing a career in education and share their personal experiences that illustrate the power of being an educator.
Preston represented Arkansas in the national competition after winning first place at the regional level. In her speech, she talked about what caused her to major in education and what she hopes to accomplish as a teacher.
Preston said she was first inspired to become a teacher by her grandmother, who is also a teacher. Preston gained a lot of experience by working summers at her grandmother's daycare.
"Going into UA Little Rock, I first majored in speech pathology, but I didn't know if this was for me, but I did want to work with kids," Preston said. "I decided halfway into my sophomore year to change my major to elementary education. I really enjoy working with kids. I really wanted to see minority students have a role model and become successful and be able to give my students the resources and knowledge that I have inside and outside the classroom."
With her graduation coming up in December, Preston will spend her final semester at UA Little Rock student teaching at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock.
"I would hope that future education students at UA Little Rock will take advantage of this opportunity to explain why they want to be a teacher and to network with like-minded students," she said. "I enjoyed it a lot, and it helps get you outside your comfort zone if you are shy like me."
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