August Student Spotlight: April Zangari
Undergraduate senior April Zangari, originally from Port Orchard, Washington, is majoring in secondary education with an emphasis in English. She chose UNLV because of the area's opportunities for teachers. “I wanted to teach in a district that is known for needing more determined, passionate teachers. I also yearned for the experience of starting fresh and pushing myself out of the comfort zone of my home state because I knew it would make me stronger and more focused on what I wanted. And I am so glad I did because I love UNLV!” says April.
April’s passion for education began as early as she can remember. April says that there have been numerous teachers who influenced her. “I feel that teachers hold such a powerfully important and influential position in the lives of students. We can help them find their voice and realize their potential entering adulthood." Her life-long passion for reading and writing inspired her to choose an emphasis on English.
She received the college's Sophomore of the Year award in 2020 for her academic excellence, community engagement, communication, and extraordinary performance outside of academics. "It gave me the push I needed to get through this challenging past year of school. I have to give an extra special shoutout and expression of gratitude to Education Student Services Advisor Nancy Esposito, who nominated me. She guides and inspires me every day!”
April is the lead peer mentor for her second year within the college’s Peer Assistance, Leadership, and Support (PALS) mentoring program where she helps advertise projects. “When I first signed up to be a PALS peer mentor in August of 2019, I did it because I felt it was an opportunity to practice professional development skills that I would eventually utilize as a teacher. But now that I am going into my third year of mentoring, I realize it was for so much more than that. Being a mentor is about growing as a student and challenging yourself to connect with others who are on a similar journey to you,” says April.
She's also a fellow in the Nevada Institute on Teaching & Educator Preparation program. Her cohort worked (virtually) with students and teachers in a Chilean school to prepare lessons and presentations. In Spring of 2021, April co-presented a family learning seminar on diverse young adult literature to Southern Nevada families. She'll start her teaching career in Las Vegas after graduation, but she's not done with her own education just yet -- she' considering graduate school and may return to UNLV as a graduate student while she teaches.
April's advice to her her follow students? "If you have the empathy, equity, and passion for becoming a teacher, don't let anything hold you back. A career in education might be challenging and could seem so far away, but I promise that it's not. Surround yourself with people who support and believe in your dreams, but also the ones who will guide you to them as well. And above all else, prioritize your mental health and well-being."
By COE Graduate Assistant Haven Neiman