Stories of SUNY Ulster — Aaron

By Alex Bennett & Ariana Lawlor

portrait of aaron

“I’ve been here since 2012, so this is the fifth calendar year that I’ve been at this school. I’ve never felt unwelcome, despite all of the tribulations that I’ve had in the past. Everybody’s always been trying to help me, from the administration to the professors. The student body has been great! Everyone’s really open. I can’t envision having an experience like this at any four-year school or private school. I can’t foresee them wanting me to excel as much as everyone here at SUNY Ulster has. I only declared a major last fall, so it took me a long time to really get the course requirements that I needed to succeed in everything. I think I will end up graduating in the spring of 2018. Having dropped out of high school twice — and this being my third full attempt as a matriculated student in college — it will be a very proud moment to walk across that stage and get my diploma. I’ll have an enormous sense of accomplishment from perseverance and from overcoming the hardships that I’ve had to face. It will feel great, I can tell you that. I can’t wait until it does happen! After I graduate from here, I plan on going to SUNY New Paltz and getting my Master’s in Education. I love kids, so I want to teach 5th grade. It’ll be a challenge, but I definitely think I’m up for it. I can relate to kids pretty well because I’m a huge child inside. Kids are incredibly curious and so good-natured, and they almost always mean well. And I think they represent what really could be good in the world. They represent the future. I’d like to nurture their curiosity and their critical thinking skills and encourage kindness. And that’s why I want to work with kids. It’s something that I’ll feel really good about in terms of my profession and my life. I’ll feel like I’m making a difference in the world, as small as it may be. I can also be genuine in my character. I won’t have to hide from who I am, and yet I’ll still feel like I’m improving the world. Plus, it will give me the ability to travel, since I’ll have two months off each summer. I love to travel! I actually went to Vietnam in January of 2016. It was incredible! You don’t understand how great you have it here until you see how people in a third world country live. When I was in the countryside, I saw people living in a shack with a plated roof and no electricity or running water. And that’s the norm. And you think, ‘Wow. I have it so good’. I would be incredibly interested in going and teaching abroad — maybe not in Vietnam, since I’ve already traveled there — but anywhere in southeast Asia would be great! I’d also love to go and teach in Africa, Eastern Europe, Dubai, South America. I would love to do that!”

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