Mentor. Tutor. Peer facilitator.

Scholarship provides opportunities for leadership and growth

By: Terri Carroll

Hannah Burkhart's extracurricular activities seem like natural choices for an aspiring teacher. Yet the new graduate says there's a good reason she so carefully chose the causes and organizations she committed to during her time at BGSU.

“They're all BG-centric,” said Burkhart. “They're rewarding ways for me to give back to this University and a community that I love.”

Burkhart graduated summa cum laude in Dec. 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Integrated Language Arts Education. She hasn't yet accepted a teaching position, and plans to substitute teach and will remain in Bowling Green this spring while searching for the right place to begin her career.

“I hope to still be involved on campus and as an alumna, since I'll be close by,” the New Knoxville native said. “Obviously, I will always consider myself a representative of BGSU, post-graduation and beyond.”

Burkhart has already left quite a mark on the University and the Bowling Green community.

As an undergraduate, Burkhart peer facilitated freshmen honors classes, and served as a campus tour guide and a coach for new tour guides, too. She's been a tutor for several school districts, including Bowling Green and Toledo Public schools, and worked with students with special needs at Wood Lane School, a Bowling Green-based alternative education facility.

This year, she began working for Bittersweet, Inc., a northwest Ohio-based nonprofit organization that supports people affected by autism by involving them in outdoor activities, from farming and horticulture to woodworking and caring for animals.

Burkhart also served on the 2013 Homecoming Court, was president of Way Campus Fellowship, and participated in BGSU's Women's Chorus, the LeaderShape Institute and Your Fellow Falcon. The Student Alumni Connection also recognized Burkhart as one of its Top 10 Seniors at Beyond BG, an event celebrating the graduating class.

When she was a high school student applying for colleges, the abundance of activities at BGSU was a big draw for Burkhart. However, academics were always her priority.

“I knew the University was renowned for its education program,” she said. “When I visited, everyone was so positive and supportive. I'm also Christian and a believer, so when I got the [Alumni Laureate] scholarship, I knew if I was chosen, it had to be the right place for me.”

For her senior honors project, Burkhart drew upon her experiences student teaching at Napoleon High School last year to create her own classroom management guide. The guide offers researched solutions for common classroom challenges, from time management to behavioral problems.

“I developed everything from procedures for entering and exiting the classroom, to using the restroom, to getting the attention of the class, to writing in planners,” she said.

Burkhart's academic adviser even allowed her to teach the guide to his BGSU class, she said.

“Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and the number one reason they leave is classroom management problems,” Burkhart said. “I'm hoping that by strengthening this piece in our program, we can help change those statistics.”

While she hopes the guide will smooth her own transition to full-time teacher, Burkhart said she looks forward to being a student again, too.

“Graduate school is still something I really want to do, but I'm going to start my teaching career first, and then decide which path to take next,” whether it's pursuing master's degrees in English, education or another field that allows her to help people with autism, she said.

Although her passion and intelligence have taken her far, Burkhart said her much of her success wouldn't have been possible without the Alumni Laureate Scholarship.

“Having the scholarship allowed me to focus on schoolwork and be as involved as I have been,” she said. “I feel confident about my abilities as a teacher, a leader and a mentor because I've had such great opportunities. I feel so prepared for the rest of my life.”