Being Present - Kate Park '12

Being Present

Kate in Toledo, Spain
Kate Park '12 says her study abroad experiences have taught her to really listen. “When someone is speaking to you in a foreign language, you have to pay attention or you miss something,” she says. It’s a lesson in being present to others that Park applies in many areas of her life, including her work with children.

The Glen Gardner, NJ, native is an education major who spent the spring semester in Saint Mary’s Seville, Spain, study abroad program. Kate found her passion in teaching and travel and says that’s a direct result of the mentoring and opportunities for exploration she has experienced here so far.

A meeting with student teaching director Karen Van Meter made a particular impression on Kate. “I remember her telling me that I had to do something I was passionate about. That no matter what, I needed to find my passion and then do it.”

Van Meter asked Kate to tell her what she enjoyed most and noted that Kate was smiling throughout the conversation as she talked about caring for the children she worked with through her education department field placements. After leaving that meeting, Kate says, she knew she had been called to teaching.

Kate’s passion for learning extends beyond the Spanish culture and language. She is a history buff and loves teaching children about the founding and ideals of our country as well as the history of other cultures. Her education classes, where she creates and presents unit plans and observes in an actual classroom, fuel her fire.

“Saint Mary’s is providing me with all the tools and skills that I will need to be a successful and effective teacher so that I can make a difference in the lives of children,” she says. If she puts her Spanish to use in the field, well, that’s just icing on the cake. What Kate really wants is to reach children, to be present to them, to instill in them the value of education and the confidence to pursue their goals.