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Pictured is Caitlin Dee. Submitted photo.

Meet Caitlin Dee '17

Job Title & Employer
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, Fulbright Student Program, placed at St. Benedict College Kirkop Secondary School in Kirkop, Malta
Major
Secondary Education
Minor
Journalism
College Activities
Future Educators of America
Hometown
Pittsburgh, Pa.
High School
Baldwin High School
Now Living In
Żurrieq, Malta
Hobbies & Interests
Coaching ice hockey when I'm in the U.S., traveling and exploring new places, crafting, listening to music, spending time with friends and family, studying languages and linguistics and promoting social-emotional health and well-being for students and teachers

"The drive I developed during college to try new things and explore different places has really helped me during this experience, but the support I received from School of Education professors encouraging me and telling me to challenge myself has been immensely impactful throughout my career. I learned I can do difficult things, and Point Park helped me build that confidence."

Caitlin Dee '17

Why did you choose Point Park?

I transferred to Point Park because it was close to home, and it had a great journalism program, which was originally what I wanted to study. I decided to take the Intro to Education course with Professor Ken Mori my first semester at Point Park, and I realized I wanted to pursue teaching. Within six weeks, I had transferred schools and switched majors, and I could not be happier with the path I chose.  

What did you like about the School of Education?

The School of Education has a close-knit group of faculty and staff, which made it easy for me to feel like I mattered amongst my peers. I could walk onto the School of Education's floor in Academic Hall and feel like, “OK, this is where I belong.” Professors would ask me about how my classes were going, how my family and friends were and what I did over the weekend. They were all so welcoming, which made it feel like home. Darlene Marnich, Ph.D., became my advisor as I was switching from journalism to secondary education, and she was committed to helping me find a way to make things work for me. Many of my peers had also transferred to Point Park, and we all said that if we were to compare our first college experience to Point Park, Point Park was leaps and bounds better than where we all came from, regardless of our original major.

Pictured is Cailtin Dee in front of a sunset in Malta. Submitted photo.Who were your favorite professors and why?

Dr. Marnich was my favorite because she was so supportive. I could go to her for help with anything. Virginia Chambers, Ed.D., was another favorite. Her classes were so engaging and energetic, and she brought interesting ideas to the table to show me how to be creative in the classroom. Being creative is a big part of who I am, so learning from her how to bring that passion into the classroom was really helpful. Though they've retired since I was in school, P.K. Weston, Ed.D., and Kim Bell, M.A., were also some of my favorite professors. They were absolutely awesome.

How did Point Park set you up for career success?

With classes running Monday through Thursday, the School of Education faculty really made the most of the time we had on Fridays to ensure we could have valuable field experiences without worrying about scheduling them around our classes during the week. I was able to focus on schoolwork Monday through Thursday, and on Fridays I could focus on developing myself professionally. It was also helpful being in Pittsburgh near so many different types of educational institutions because our professors could easily build field experiences into our class time. One day, we went to Pittsburgh CAPA downtown and then to Clara Barton Elementary School in West Mifflin. I could also pick some of my own classroom observation locations. The opportunity to experience so many districts and types of schools prepared me for the field by showing me what it’s like teaching in schools of varying resources, sizes and populations.

I also appreciated Point Park’s diverse course offerings. I could take a photography or a business class for my electives, and my core history class was the History of Sports with Ed Meena, M.Ed., M.A. If I had more room in my schedule, I would have taken more history classes with him.

Pictured is Caitlin Dee teaching in her classroom. Submitted photo.What work are you doing through the Fulbright Student Program?

My primary focus is teaching English to secondary school students in grades 9-11 four days a week. I help them practice for their oral proficiency exams that they take at the end of the school year. I’ve also taught some cultural lessons. They want to learn what we do in the U.S. for different holidays, and I’m able to learn more about what they do. For instance, on Halloween, they go trick-or-treating all day long. They were shocked to hear we only trick-or-treat for two hours in the U.S.

I also spend one day a week at the University of Malta as a lecturer. I teach a unit on English for professional communications, which is exciting because it is my dream to be a university professor someday.

Fulbright scholars also have to do additional work to fulfill our weekly hours, such as getting involved with an NGO or doing community service. I picked Malta for my placement specifically because of the service project I wanted to work on. The university has a Center for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health, and they work with primary and secondary schools and universities throughout Europe to develop curriculum that teachers and parents can use for children's social and emotional learning. I’m taking a class there on positive psychology, resilience and well-being, and I've helped with their research initiatives to develop a thematic unit on self-regulation for children. They’ve asked me to do copy editing for their journal publication, the International Journal of Emotional Education, which allows me to use skills gained through my journalism minor from Point Park. I’m also helping them work on a grant for an Erasmus Mundus degree on resilience, which will be offered through universities in Malta, Romania, Greece and Portugal.

How did your Point Park experience help prepare you for this?

Dr. Marnich had a major influence on me. She was the first one to encourage me to step out of my comfort zone, which is the most significant thing I’ve had to do throughout this experience. The drive I developed during college to try new things and explore different places has really helped me during this experience, but the support I received from School of Education professors encouraging me and telling me to challenge myself has been immensely impactful throughout my career. I learned I can do difficult things, and Point Park helped me build that confidence. 

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