No matter where life has taken her, Valencia Griffin has always wanted to learn more.
“I’m always curious, so I’m always learning. Being curious is what helps you develop the most,” she says. “When I was young, my mother always said education was the key to me becoming who I wanted to be. I’ve held on to that.”
So it makes sense that Griffin aspires to become an educator, a role in which she can help students unlock their own curiosity and potential.
“I want to be the teacher that students confide in and trust, and who helps the students master what they need to learn in order to be successful,” she says. “I want students to stand up for themselves and know they are the getting the best education.”
Griffin transferred to Alverno when she moved to Milwaukee from Georgia. She wasn’t certain that education was the right major for her, but supportive faculty and the many opportunities to get field experience helped convince her she was where she was meant to be. She was named a Lubar Scholar, which in addition to providing funding for her education allowed her to gain experience in scholarly research.
“The research that I’ve done has allowed me to see what kids need to be successful, especially kids in low-income communities,” she says.
Griffin’s focus on helping children succeed is personal – she recalls how her mother worked two full-time jobs and pursued her own education while encouraging her daughters to pursue their educations. Now, she is poised to become the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“My mom wanted the best for my sister and I, and she always fought for us to have the opportunities that she didn’t have,” Griffin says. “She’s going to be proud that I kept pushing, even when things were difficult.”
After graduating this May, Griffin will continue her education through a research fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She was accepted into a competitive program and will work with Dr. Percival Matthews, who studies how math symbols impact the way students learn math.
“I’m excited to learn more about how kids learn and how I can help them learn,” she says.