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Passion for learning sets College of Education student’s career path

A portrait of a person in front of the Education Building on Boise State's campus
College of Education student Bailey Reece. Photo by Sean Evans.

Meet Bailey Reece, originally from Middleton, Idaho, and set to graduate in the spring of 2024 with a Master in Teaching in Secondary Education degree. Reece is part of a fellowship program that’s allowed her to teach rural students at Parma High School, returning to her roots after living in Boise to attend the university.

“Growing up in a rural area, I thought I would never go back and that city life was for me. But I have an amazing team at Parma High, amazing students and I have an amazing time teaching,” she said. “The opportunity has been incredible. I have built connections and gained real experience applying the knowledge from my classes. I love Parma High School, and I couldn’t have asked to be anywhere better.”

After graduation, Reece plans to take her “dream vacation” to Europe before diving back into her studies and joining the doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. She hopes to ultimately work as a faculty member, educating and inspiring future instructors.

“As a low-income, first-generation student, I initially thought college was never in the cards for me. Against all the odds, I did it. I hope to inspire others to push themselves to achieve their goals. I hope to remind people it is possible. I want to tell people why education is so important and that gaining knowledge can be fun. I truly love learning and this whole experience is like a dream come true.”

Q and A with Bailey Reece

Are there any courses, professors or staff that stand out as transformative during your time at Boise State?

Literary Criticism and Theory with Gautam Basu Thakur was the most eye-opening class I have ever taken, as well as one of the most intellectually engaging, challenging and fun classes I have ever taken. I was impressed with Thakur’s skill and knowledge when teaching and it was very inspiring.

Tom Hillard, my Literary Capstone professor allowed so much creative freedom, and life-changing discussions with fellow classmates. Hillard taught us how to create a legacy and to apply ourselves out in the world. It was my most fun college course ever taken, filled with wonderful people I now can call friends.

Matthew Hansen allowed us to use what we learned in class to perform community outreach, directing “Hamlet” to elementary school students. I enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer work, as well as visualizing everything we were learning in class.

AJ Zenkert has been kind, understanding and helpful. Whenever I needed something,  he was always knowledgeable in the subject and would dedicate so much time to helping his students. He helped us to slow down and produce quality work that mattered. As I continue my journey of being an educator, he is someone I look to as inspiration.

When I started taking courses with Steven Olsen-Smith I was nervous the classes wouldn’t keep me entertained, as I didn’t have a special interest in them. But, after my first class, I tried to get his classes as much as I could, I think I ended up taking four in total. If I didn’t have a particular interest in the subjects yet, I would soon. He is capable of building passion, even in the smallest of classes, and was helpful, knowledgeable and incredibly engaging.

Finally, Angel Larson, Serena Morales and Bethany Gochnour in my master’s program have helped the program be so fun. I have never had as much fun in school as I am now in this program. They are quirky and kind. They are honest and straight to the point. These educators made me see you do not have to fit a cookie-cutter role. For example, you can allow for an entire program to come to class Barbie-themed. When I was younger, I struggled a lot through school, hoping to make it through each year. These educators not only made class fun, but also build confidence in their students, making lasting impacts on future educators.

What is your specialty and why do you focus on that?

My specialty at the moment is English. I have loved English since middle school when I found a passion for writing. I love poetry, quick writes and narratives. The English department just really drove me in. I love how strict it is until you realize there are no rules. Plus, English is communication and I am a social butterfly.

What do you think was unique about your experience at Boise State that you might not have had the chance to do elsewhere?

Boise State allowed me to skip student teaching, and jump right into the field through a fellowship program. I get to apply my knowledge from coursework and use real tricks we are being taught. I get to ask questions, and the best thing is to teach!