In sixth grade, Becca Griswold had a tough time making the transition into middle school.
Her principal, Dr. Jason Andrews, believed in her and inspired confidence in the young student – as well as a determination to follow in his footsteps as an educator. Dr. Andrews is a now school superintendent and Griswold hopes to become one, too, as her career in education takes shape.
A Liberal Arts major, Griswold will transfer to SUNY Cortland this fall for the next step of her career journey. She plans to become a social studies teacher, drawing on her favorite subject during her K-12 days and her appreciation for civic engagement, discovered during her time at SUNY Broome.
SUNY Broome isn’t Griswold’s first college experience, but it has been by far her most successful. She began at Fordham University, where she played Division I softball and helped her team win the Atlantic 10 Championship. But she admits that her focus was entirely on her sport and not on her academic success.
Thinking a change of scene would help, she transferred to the University at Buffalo but continued to struggle. Disillusioned, she dropped out of school and spent five years working for Chipotle, working her way up to general manager. While she enjoyed working for the company, she felt that her future called her elsewhere.
She enrolled at SUNY Broome, where her mother also attended classes as part of the partnership program with Excelsior College. To ease the transition, she began with a few summer courses and was pleasantly surprised.
“I had really great professors,” she said. “I love being here. I love being engaged in campus. It really feels like home.”
With softball out of the picture, she found other ways to become engaged in campus life, such as the Broome Educators of Children Association, and improved academically, earning a spot on the President’s List. She also became involved with public deliberations, working with Professor Lisa Strahley, coordinator for the Douglas C. Garnar Center for Civic Engagement.
Unlike debates, deliberations aren’t adversarial in nature. Instead, groups of engaged citizens discuss aspects of a problem, potential solutions, and the pluses and minuses of each. There is a focus on listening and inviting a variety of voices to the discussion, Griswold explained.
“Deliberations are a better way of hearing everyone and everyone having a voice at the table. Everyone can hear each other,” she said.
Under Professor Strahley’s guidance, Becca is learning to run deliberations and developing the skills she hopes to use one day in the classroom. She participated in one such deliberation in the Chenango Valley school district, focused on the problem of mass shootings.
“It wasn’t just parents and students; we had a police chief, the county executive, school employees, different voices and opinions. It was cool to have them hear each other’s perspectives,” she said.
Griswold stays involved in the community in other ways as well. She coaches a travel softball team in Windsor and has also volunteered at The Children’s Home, which gave her the opportunity to witness how educators can make a difference in the lives of children in difficult circumstances.
As she approaches Commencement, Griswold is grateful for her second chance at a college education – right here in her hometown. From professors Strahley and Christine Duffy-Webb to her advisor Tom Quain, SUNY Broome faculty and staff have pushed this future educator to improve her academic standing and succeed.
“They have helped me to think bigger and expect more of myself,” she reflected. “They have also taught me to get involved, and that you do not have to look far to make an impact on this world. There are many opportunities right here in our communities.”