Last week Chicago Tonight featured alum Asia-Ana Williams ’18 during her first few days as a practicing teacher for Richards Career Academy in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. The PBS program followed Williams as she set up her classroom and interacted with students for the first time as a professional educator.

Before her first day, she summed up her anticipation, “I’m nervous, I’m excited. I’m all the adjectives.”

It was a day years in the making, as Williams had dreamed of being a teacher since she was in high school. And she left no stone unturned as she readied her classroom.

“I spent the whole summer obsessing over what it would look like,” she said. “I want them to walk in and know that I invested my time into (readying) this classroom. So obviously, I will invest my time into them.”

Williams earned her bachelor’s in English teacher education, and she participated in all of the programming offered by the University’s National Center for Urban Education (NCUE). That included an intensive summer internship and a student teaching placement in the city. She is currently participating in the NCUE’s Induction/Mentoring program this fall. That effort provides support and guidance for Redbird teachers in their first years in the field.

The Chicago Public Schools graduate is motivated to take the lessons she learned at Illinois State to make an impact on her students in the same way her best teachers did for her.

“These students are my neighbors, these students are community members, and I want them to have great things, just like I’d want great things for myself,” she said.

Williams also participated in TEACH as a high school student at Roosevelt in Chicago’s Albany Park. The NCUE program provides students interested in the profession with teaching experiences before they enter college.