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April 26, 2016
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
Dreams of student teaching abroad became a reality for Brittany Walker this spring when she traveled to Wuxi, China.
Walker, who also completed her bachelor’s degree in music education this spring, is teaching at the International School of Wuxi with the support of the Benjamin A. Gillman Scholarship, funded through the U.S. Department of State. She was also awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Study Abroad Deans Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Study Abroad Scholarship.
“I have always had a small, secret dream to travel and teach music abroad,” Walker said. “For me, this was never really a reality because of financial issues.”
Then, Walker’s academic advisor, Professor of Music Dr. Bill Richardson, asked if she wanted to teach abroad in Wuxi. Walker and Richardson coordinated with the student teaching and the study abroad offices at Northwest and the International School of Wuxi to place Walker in a seven-week student teaching program.
“Brittany is one of the most capable and hard-working students I have known at Northwest,” Richardson said. “She is a can-do person who always has a smile on her face.”
While in Wuxi, Walker is teaching alongside Northwest alumna Rachel Sneed, who began teaching at the International School of Wuxi in 2012.
“Every day I am welcomed into their community and feel more a part of the school,” Walker said. “They are kind and don’t give a second thought to helping anyone in need. I am extremely fortunate to be a temporary part of their team.”
As an international school, its enrollment includes students from Korea, China, Brazil and France.
“Everyone always thinks that the students here would be more well-behaved, because of their Asian culture, but honestly they just act like kids,” Walker said. “The students are great, and I have been so blessed to have a wonderful support system with the International School of Wuxi staff and students, as well as the Northwest faculty and staff, while I am in China.”
At Northwest, Walker built her leadership skills as a SOAR leader, student ambassador, University Seminar peer advisor, vice president of membership for Kappa Kappa Psi, the National Association for Music Educators member, Bearcat Marching Band mellophone section leader and senior field assistant, music librarian, and principal horn in the Wind Symphony and Orchestra.
“I chose Northwest, because of the beautiful campus, and that I wouldn’t be known as just another student,” Walker said. “I knew I could work in a classroom and still receive one-on- one times as well as be able to be a part of multiple organizations and succeed in my musical career.”
Walker said she will miss the family atmosphere at Northwest.
“I was never afraid to join organizations or apply for jobs on campus, because I knew the surrounding people would treat me like family, support me and help me become the best I could possibly be,” Walker said.
Walker’s future plans include becoming a band director and building ensembles internationally.
“My advice for future students is: don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Walker said. “Use your resources, do what you love, and be involved in your major, extra activities, and on campus.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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