Hometown: Stratford, Conn.
Major: Secondary Education - English
WCSU Degree: B.S. in Secondary Education - English
Internships: Student teaching at Bunnell High School in Stratford, Conn.
Activities: Work full time at Chili's Restaurant in Waterbury since 2004, work at Sterling House Community Center in Stratford as a CIT program director and junior-counselor supervisor for past two summers
Honors and Awards: Dean's List, 3.2+ GPA
Irene McKinney wanted to attend Fordham University, but they wait-listed her application. "I decided I would attend a school relatively close to home where I could satisfy the basic requirements of my degree," she says. "I have managed to avoid large sums of student loans because of WestConn's affordability."
Originally a pre-med major, McKinney soon found "the content of some of the classes told me I should be in another field. I have always enjoyed a wide range of classes," she says. "I love history, philosophy, language arts, anthropology and social sciences. The English classroom seems to be the only place where all of these subjects collide. I also truly feel that teaching English shows people how to understand and appreciate each other."
While immersing herself in her English studies, McKinney found a number of allies among the department's faculty. "I have had many mentors at WestConn," McKinney says. "Dr. Maureen Maguire, Dr. Ingrid Pruss and Dr. Margaret Sullivan have been amazing mentors in the English department. They provided me with a great deal of knowledge, improved my writing and reading skills, gave me straightforward, helpful advice any time I asked, and provided me with a stronger sense of self."
Asked what she will remember most about her WestConn experience, McKinney says, "I really enjoyed living at WestConn my first year. I made great friends who continue to be some of the most genuine people I know. I have had countless revelations and amazing learning experiences with so many professors. The English department as a whole has left a deep impact on who I am and what kind of teacher I aspire to be.”
After graduation, McKinney plans to apply for teaching positions. She's also considering Fordham University for graduate school if she cannot obtain a teaching position right away.
McKinney’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “Make your experience worth your while. Concentrate on school, but also realize that interaction with your peers, professors and classmates is just as significant to your growth as an individual.”