Future teacher, Tanisha Barker, always felt like she belonged at SUU and credits much of her success to the influential people she’s interacted with during her college experience. With guidance from her caring mentors, Barker was able to combine her passion for social studies with a secondary education license. Through her hard work and study habits, Barker is representing the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as its 2017 valedictorian.
Barker just completed her student teaching in an eighth-grade history class at Cedar Middle School and loved the experience. However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a teacher.
When Barker first arrived to SUU from Centerville, Utah, she struggled to pick a major. She decided to visit the Career Center on campus and took a career assessment test. From that test, and experimenting with several general education courses, she decided to dive into the social sciences.
This major required her to take classes from history and economics to education and sociology. Barker got to know many different professors and learned through different perspectives and teaching styles.
Dr. Dave Lunt, an assistant professor of history, had a particularly large impact on her education.
“Even though I only took one class with Dr. Lunt, he was always willing to meet to help me plan my future,” said Barker. “He genuinely cared about my life, and the life of each one of his students.”
Barker also worked as a teacher’s assistant for Michelle Orihel, an assistant professor of history. Under the mentorship Orihel, Lunt and many others, she was able to gain an understanding and appreciation for quality educators who are genuine and enthusiastic about the success of their students. Traits she hopes to emulate in her future career.
“Teaching is more than just showing up to school,” she said. “It’s your life. It’s a job where you have to learn as you go. You have to be flexible as you plan, grade and teach.”
Barker fell in love with teaching and hopes to find a job at a middle school where she can also coach debate. Her dream is to be able to stay in southern Utah and instill a passion for social studies in her future students.