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Nia Townsend graduated from University High School in 2015. After high school, she attended Ball State University, and she currently works as a kindergarten teacher. Below, Nia answers a few questions about being a teacher and how University prepared her for college and beyond.

What have you been up to since leaving University?

I have been well since I left University. I graduated cum laude from Ball State University. There I continued to work with Dance Marathon and was on the Executive Board for Morale (of course). I became an RA, an orientation leader, and now I work as a kindergarten teacher!

How do you feel University best prepared you for college and life beyond?

The responsibility piece is what set University aside for me. It was similar to college with a tad bit more structure, but in college you will have free time and it’s like, okay, am I going to do this assignment or am I going to watch Netflix? In the same way at University, we had to take responsibility for our learning. During this double study hall am I going to get caught up on work or am I going to get caught up on “Insecure” (a TV show)?

Do you see that the core values you learned at University still apply to your life now? How?

Yes! Specifically personal responsibility. That is a big one because as you get older, taking on that responsibility becomes vital to your growth, and in order to achieve excellence (which is another value – commitment to excellence) you have to be willing to grow and allow for those growing pains to challenge you. Adulting is like 80% taking responsibility, 20% I can do what I want (lol). I think that was one thing that University did their best to instill. They urged us to own our mistakes as well as our successes!

How did what you learned at University prepare you for this challenging year as a teacher?

I don’t think anything could have quite prepared me for what this year had to offer because it’s definitely been tough. But I will say the patience and gentleness that I give to the families and students I deal with is something I definitely learned from University. The community aspect that they cultivated is definitely something I have tried to mimic. We all come from different backgrounds and have diverse experiences that make us who we are, and incorporating these backgrounds and families, which lately have literally been a part of our classroom, can be overwhelming. But the patience and gentleness that University showed as we would welcome new freshmen and transfer students into our community has helped me to, even over Zoom, do the same with the families and students I have this year.

Now that you are a teacher, what would you like to say to your teachers at University?

Bless y’all! And I miss you all! I know dealing with high schoolers is probably different than dealing with kindergarteners, but I didn’t know I’d be this tired!

What advice would you give to current students at University?

Take it all in. Try everything. You get in what you put out, so try something new – and don’t just do all academic classes because you get to know so many more people (yes, even at a school with like 350 kids) when you try new things. You also get to learn more about yourself!