The 2017-2018 academic year is in the books! That means life as a professional teacher (or administrator, counselor, coach, etc.) is about to start for hundreds of #EdBirds.

Ellie Trunk signs "graduation."

Ellie Trunk signs the word graduation.

It also means we’ve got another commencement speech to share, and this one was written and delivered by Ellie Trunk ’18 to a group of more than 400 College of Education graduates. Trunk earned her bachelor’s in special education with a focus on deaf and hard of hearing. She is also fluent in Spanish.

After graduation, we sat down with the new teacher to reflect on her Illinois State experience and what’s next in her life.

“Even in my out-of-state student teaching experience, professionals knew ISU as an outstanding teacher preparation school. The opportunities, knowledge, and hands-on experience have been crucial in my education.” –Ellie Trunk

Q: Commencement speeches are tough because you are trying to connect with a large group in a personal and meaningful way. What was most important message for you to get across?

A: I wanted them to know how special this day is. I also wanted to reflect on current happenings in the world and address what we can do to change things for the better. It doesn’t mean we will all be the same, but finding something that is similar in each other will help to guide us in the right direction.

Q: Why did you decide to choose to pursue a degree in education?

A: Coming from a family of teachers, I always loved school and learning. As a kid, I would play school for hours with my stuffed animals and old teaching materials from teachers!

Q: Why did you choose Illinois State?

A: I would like to think that ISU chose me! I’m a “townie” from Bloomington-Normal. I didn’t plan to stay in town for college, but upon learning about the programs and offerings at ISU I couldn’t go anywhere else!

Q: Why do you think it was the right choice?

A: The statistics shared in the annual report from the College of Education (and the University as well) are reason enough to know I attended one of the best programs in the nation. Even in my out-of-state student teaching experience, professionals knew ISU as an outstanding teacher preparation school. The opportunities, knowledge, and hands-on experience have been crucial in my education.

At first, I didn’t want to go to ISU because it was in my home town. But I now realize that everything about campus was new to me and a learning experience just like any other college. Luckily, I knew all the best places to eat and the fastest travel routes! ISU is familiar to all the locals, but it’s truly it’s own experience when you attend.

Q: Where are you hoping to teach?

A: I’d like to stay in the area so I can continue to be a part of the ISU family and attend trainings and take classes for professional development.

Q: Who’s one person who made a significant and positive impact on your college experience?

A: The whole Department of Special Education has played a role in my education positively. I worked in the office for a year and a half and each staff and faculty member made every day great. Specifically, if it wasn’t for Maribeth Lartz I wouldn’t be at ISU! She provided opportunities for research and practicum in both of my certifications. Additionally, Adrianne Locke was an amazing professor and supervisor who influenced my final and most intense year of school.

Q: Why should people who are interested in pursuing a degree in teaching choose Illinois State?

A: I have had so many professionals who value an ISU degree interested in my studies. The teaching program is great with great schools to do clinicals at. Additionally, the college has so many social events, lots of support, and great learning experiences.

Q: Sum up your ISU experience in 11 words or less!

A: Rigorous and comprehensive but fulfilling and fueling for a teaching career.

Q: One piece of advice you wish you would have been able to give yourself your first year at Illinois State?

A: I was a transfer student, and I wish I would have gotten more involved! Especially for teaching majors, the last year is hard with clinicals and student teaching. Get involved early!

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out off campus?

A: At home with my cat or the Coffee Hound!

Q: What’s your favorite campus study spot?

A: I love Studio Teach! But also, I am a big fan of the study space on floor six of Milner Library.

Q: What’s your favorite place to eat on campus?

A: McAllisters.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: SED 368 with Tara Kaczorowski.

Q: What’s your favorite ISU “tradition” or event?

A: Watching the Big Red Marching Machine at halftime of a football game, when the sun is setting in the sky.