Future teacher embraces being role model for young women

Veronica Hendricks

Meet Veronica Hendricks

Engineering Education Student

Veronica Hendricks is aware of her dual role in the classroom - as a future teacher and as a role model for young women who traditionally lose interest in science and do not consider STEM careers.

During her recent time in a high school classroom, Veronica was able to bring in real-world examples of the different branches of engineering that supported the concept the students were learning - Newton's Laws of Physics.  Instead of reading about the laws, Veronica was able to engage the students in actively researching each law and the practical engineering problems that exist for each law.  Her lessons were engaging, interactive, and encouraged the students to lead their own learning through collaboration and inquiry to discover answers.
Keep reading to find out what inspired Veronica in her degree and career choice.

Why did you pick this degree?

I love learning about math, physics, and engineering, but I have also always dreamed of being a teacher. I want to combine both passions and that is exactly what Engineering Education is.

What does this degree mean to you?

It means that I can incorporate the best of both worlds, math and science, and share my knowledge with my future students.

Why is this degree different?

I would say the degree is different because it combines math and science and applies it to the real world. That connection is extremely important because it shows students that the material is used in everyday life.

What is your ultimate career goal?

I want to teach physics and engineering courses in high school. I also think about how I want my masters in some engineering field, maybe space operations. I know I did it backwards as most people retire and then teach, but it's just the route I want to take.

How will this help you achieve your career goals?

It helps me gain the necessary knowledge I need to provide my future students.

Do you feel supported in your studies? What support services have you utilized?

I do feel supported. The professors in the engineering department are absolutely amazing and are always willing to help. The UCCS Teach department is wonderful as well and are there for you whenever you need them. The math department is always open for students when we need help. I am actually a PASS leader (group math tutor), too, so I like to take advantage of my friends in the math center!

How did exposure to teaching at the beginning of your degree program help you in your decision to become a teacher?

I knew immediately working with younger students that I loved teaching and helping them learn. Seeing a student understand something and get excited about learning is extremely fulfilling. Teaching has SO many challenges, but if you work hard enough and put your all into it, you can get past the challenges and it is rewarding.

Share a recent classroom experience.

I recently taught a 9th grade physics class and the students were so great to me. Some of the girls kept telling me that I was going to be a great teacher and they kept thanking me. One of them even told me she looks up to me because she wants to learn engineering. It melted my heart. Knowing that I can be a role model to young students makes me extremely happy and grateful.

Share about the inquiry method model of education.

Inquiry-based requires the students to think and truly push themselves in school. I love it because it lets them think outside of the box and be creative, which is VERY important in engineering. I believe that it makes the classroom 'student led' rather than having the teacher in the front the whole time. When you let students lead, their brains are working in a completely different way than when they sit there and are lectured at every single day, every single class, all class period.

What does this degree mean for the future?

I think this degree will bring forth many engineering teachers who have a background in math, science, and engineering. It will provide schools with more engineering teachers, and therefore more students with access to engineering courses.

What is your degree focus?

My degree focus is mechanical engineering. I started out as a mechanical engineer because the material is awesome and I feel like I can apply it to so many things.

What are some of the engineering and applied science courses or projects that were impactful?

MAE Senior Design is a great project. It's a year long course where you work with a local, regional, national, or even international company and are given a project where you create a process and prototype. You do it in groups of about 3-5 and it's awesome. Everybody brings different skills to the table.
[ Bachelor of Science Engineering Education ]