April Graider of the Month: Becca Hanlin, UChicago

Becca Hanlin-April Graider of the Month

I’m honored to announce our April Graider of the Month - joining us all the way from sunny Spain - Becca Hanlin!

Becca is a junior at the University of Chicago who is currently studying poverty and education in Spain at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona (which just happens to be my favorite city in the world!). Back in Chicago, Becca is majoring in Comparative Human Development and Public Policy. UChicago doesn’t offer an education degree, but that didn’t stop Becca from pursuing her passion.

“I knew I wanted to get into education. Comparative Human Development combines a lot of different fields in the social sciences and offers the most education courses - I was instantly drawn to it. I picked up the Public Policy major as a sophomore because I wanted to explore all the other facets of education outside of teaching, including ed policy.”

Her two favorite UChicago classes to date?

  1. Language Socialization: In this class, students explore how children first learn languages in different cultures and how this language acquisition plays into pre-K and Kindergarten education as young students make the cultural transition from home to school.

  2. Urban Schools and Communities: This course is taught by Sara Ray Stoelinga, who is the director of UChicago’s Urban Education Institute (UEI).  Becca was particularly excited to take this class because she had interned at the UEI the summer before. “Professor Stoelinga amazes me with her knowledge of education. The class completely lived up to my high expectations!” Through this course, students are able to learn more about urban school systems and explore how factors of diversity, poverty, and the issue of school choice play a central role in urban schools and communities. Being based in Chicago, this course provided highly relevant insight into close-to-home issues.

Where does her passion for education stem from?

“It always starts with my mom. She is a teacher in a public school outside St. Louis. She’s been teaching since I was in first grade. I was a teacher’s kid who grew up in the school environment. When I was in high school, I would help her grade, talk to her about lesson plans, I always wants to know what she was teaching. Looking back, that’s kind of a weird thing to do as a high school student, but I just really enjoyed working with kids.”

When Becca arrived at UChicago, she got involved in Jumpstart and joined the education profession cohort. As all the pieces started to fall into place her freshman year, a lightbulb went off “‘I love education!’ It struck me as a surprise my freshman year when I had that realization - but I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone else. The signs were always there.”

Why The Graide Network?

After her internship at the UEI, Becca realized she enjoyed being part of something that was directly impacting students, helping them with their education. “I wanted to do something more than classes, I wanted to continue having that impact.” She heard about The Graide Network through school, and she realized it was a great opportunity because she could support teachers and students and still juggle a full course load. “I love that you can work on your own schedule, bid for assignments when you have free time. I really appreciate the flexibility and the chance to interact with teachers and students and provide valuable support.”

Becca is certainly making an impact - even from from 4,400 miles away!

This past semester, Becca has worked with 6 different middle and high school teachers and she’s received rave reviews from them all. Teachers continue to praise Becca for her thoughtful, detailed, and robust feedback that has the power to drive student learning and achievement. Becca’s advice for other students thinking about exploring the education field is simple: “If you’re interested, go for it! You don’t need to decide right at the moment if this is something you want to pursue long term. The worst case scenario is that you do something positive, have a great impact on kids and the community, and decide it’s not your life path. It’s always worth trying - and you’ll be doing a great service to yourself and the students you work with.”

So what’s in store next for Becca?

Teaching! “My main goal right now is to try to get into a teaching program.” Becca is exploring City Year and other alternative teaching certifications where she can pursue her master's degree and be in the classroom. Wherever she ends up, we are confident that she will be a success and continue to have a tremendous impact on the students and communities she serves.

Thank you Becca, and congrats!