Both alumnae are confident that it is because of the field experiences and internships that Western offers that they are as comfortable in the classroom as they are. Being a first year teacher is a scary thought, but because of the hand on experiences Brijalba and Jones obtained while at Western, both women entered their classrooms on the first day of school with confidence in their ability to be successful teachers. Jones said, "I felt prepared and I knew what to expect, thanks to WCU."
When asked what advice they would give current and future catamounts, both women responded with different, yet equally helpful advice.
Brijalba said, "Have open communication with professors, and be sure to thank them often; they work really hard and I adore them for that. Don't take yourself to seriously, live it up! We all have a short time to be young and a long time to be grown up and have a career. I am not saying to stay in college forever, but just enjoy your time at Western because you will never get it back." Both women wanted to encourage students to enjoy Sylva, and the small-town feel it offers. Brijalba said, "Take up a hobby that keeps you active outside of Western too. Some people like hiking or hanging out in church parking lots, while I was at Western my vice was going to Annie's with my best friends to rock out to some karaoke."
Jones said, "The best advice I have is to go to class!!! And don't procrastinate! Even though you need to enjoy the short time you have there, because the real world sneaks up on you very quickly, don't enjoy it so much that you aren't ready when the real world arrives."
Brijalba has committed to one year at Sun Valley High, and is hoping they will ask her to continue working at the end of the school year. Jones enjoys teaching now, but hopes to return to her education to obtain masters degree in an educational field, to become National Board Certified in teaching, and hopefully one day earn her doctorate degree.
Even though the condition of the economy is at an all time low, and unemployment rates are almost in double digits, with hard work, dedication, and the guidance of Western Carolina University faculty and staff there it is still possible to thrive in the real world; Acacia Brijalba and Megan Jones are fine examples of this possibility.
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