English-Secondary Education Student MaKenna Sweeney ’25 is Making a Difference in the Classroom and Beyond
MaKenna Sweeney ’25 says the tutoring and teaching experiences she’s had in the English-Secondary Education program has reaffirmed that she is on the right career path. “It has shown me that making a difference in students' lives is not only possible, but worth it,” she says.
MaKenna is also pursuing a minor in Spanish and says she decided to attend UHart as a English-Secondary Education major due to her positive interactions with Program Director Julie Sochacki. “I was compelled by the small, close-knit community the major offers and the immediate hands-on classroom experience,” she says. “I was drawn to UHart for its smaller classroom sizes and ability for one-on-one connections between students and faculty.”
This summer, MaKenna is working as an intern at Choate Rosemary Hall, a private boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut, where she is an advisor to students, observes study halls, teaches afternoon activities, and coordinates downtime activities both on and off campus. “Working at Choate has provided me with a well-rounded experience, in which I am seeing, working, and living in a world that revolves around the joys of education,” she says.
When she graduates, MaKenna will be certified to teach grades 7-12 but says she’d be happy teaching any grade. “Whether I'm helping students write their college admissions essays or develop their reading and writing skills, I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.”
MaKenna says there is an abundance of opportunities within the program and that the English and education courses help to refine and foster her skills in both worlds. “The English faculty are beyond supportive of the English-Secondary Education students, and I credit many of my greatest educational opportunities to the English faculty,” says MaKenna. “Some semesters tend to lean more toward English, while others lean toward Education, but the overarching goal is the ability to combine both to create a classroom environment that enriches, supports, and furthers students' English education.”
In addition to her teaching experience at Choate, MaKenna previously taught pre-school in her hometown in a program that was aimed at readying students who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We focused largely on social-emotional skills, increasing comfortability in public settings, and ensuring students left the program with the skills and abilities necessary for advancement.”
MaKenna is heavily involved in campus activities outside of the classroom. She works as a peer tutor for Contemporary Mathematics and Writing in UHart’s Tutoring Center and is hoping to begin a student-teaching position this academic year. She also serves on the editorial board of the student-run UHart literary journal Aerie and is the social media manager for STN2, UHart's student-run news television network, where she is writer and an occasional “April Fool's” news anchor. And she works in the Office of Residential Life as a resident assistant and customer service representative, and volunteers as a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences.
“My favorite thing about UHart is the strong sense of community that stems from the smaller student population,” she says. “I have never found it difficult to strike up a conversation with someone I see in the library, on the bridge, in class, or in the dorms, as we almost always have something in common and are able to forge a bond. I thoroughly enjoy the smaller class sizes as well, as they allow for in-depth discussion and connection between students and professors—I have never been just a name on a roster.”
MaKenna Sweeney ’25, College of Arts and Sciences
My favorite thing about UHart is the strong sense of community that stems from the smaller student population. I have never found it difficult to strike up a conversation with someone I see in the library, on the bridge, in class, or in the dorms, as we almost always have something in common and are able to forge a bond. I thoroughly enjoy the smaller class sizes as well, as they allow for in-depth discussion and connection between students and professors—I have never been just a name on a roster.