LifestyleUNC Charlotte

Charlotte Cato College Offers A Transformative Path For Transfer Student

Zakia Williams embarked on her UNC Charlotte journey as a transfer student facing the challenge of reshaping her academic focus. A pivotal moment occurred during a session with her academic advisor, where probing questions about her passions and career aspirations set her on the transformative path of pursuing a dual major in elementary and special education—a distinctive combination offered by the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education.

Reflecting on her decision, Williams remarked, “Transferring and discovering a new major has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made for myself. It put me on the path to meet many amazing professors that have taken the time to support me throughout my journey as both an educator and a continuing learner.”

In 2023, Williams completed her student teaching near UNC Charlotte’s main campus at Mallard Creek Elementary School, describing the experience as an “incredible adventure.” Collaborating on various teaching practices, including instruction, lesson planning, and classroom management, Williams emphasized the transformative impact of these moments in pushing her beyond her comfort zone and fostering confidence.

“Beyond learning and meeting my degree requirements, I truly needed the experience for myself, and I loved every moment of it,” she shared, highlighting the invaluable insights gained from being part of a dynamic school community.

Williams acknowledged the flexibility and grace inherent in great teaching, shaping her approach heavily around collaboration, assessment strategies, and providing additional support to both students and their families.

Her college journey faced challenges, including the loss of a family member and struggles in keeping up with academic demands. During the pandemic, Williams opted for a semester off to prioritize her mental health—an endeavor met with understanding and support from Dr. Kelly Anderson, who played a pivotal role in navigating her return to academic pursuits.

Persisting through challenges, Williams emerged triumphant, securing a teaching position at an elementary school in Charlotte post-graduation. Professor Anderson lauds her resilience, noting, “Because of her life experiences and resilience, Zakia will continue to model what it means to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. She is one of those students that reminds us as faculty why we love teaching and chose education as a field.”

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