Greyhound Grad Discusses How ENMU Helped Her Start Career as Pre-K Teacher

Amanda Gonzales
Amanda Gonzales

Greyhound Grad Discusses How ENMU Helped Her Start Career as Pre-K Teacher

amanda gonzales with parents at graduation
Amanda with her parents, Regina and Nick.

Amanda Gonzales, who graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with Early Childhood Education PreK-Grade 3 Licensure in May 2018, recently became a Pre-K teacher at Elgin Elementary School in Elgin, Texas. She was offered the position one week before she graduated from ENMU.

"I enjoy being with my students. Every day is something new, and it is never boring," explained Amanda, who is responsible for nurturing and developing students' interests in age-appropriate subjects while encouraging social interactions and fostering a creative learning environment. "My favorite thing is when we are learning something new, and you can just see the little light bulb in their heads go off when they finally grasp the concept."

The Greyhound Grad feels her time at ENMU prepared her for becoming a teacher.

"ENMU put me in the classroom, which set me apart from many other candidates when looking for a job," said Amanda. "I had many opportunities to observe inside the classroom, teach and plan lessons to all different age groups. This made me more comfortable in front of the classroom [in my new role as a Pre-K teacher]."

Amanda served as a teacher's assistant at ENMU's Child Development Center in fall 2015. She developed lesson plans and worked with small groups.

amanda gonzales with decorated graduation cap
Amanda's graduation cap.

She was a research assistant for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grant titled "Sustainable Food Production, Preparation and Education for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity and Experiential Learning for Undergraduates" from 2016-17. She completed a research project, created lessons and managed data sets and field studies.

Her work as a pre-school teacher in fall 2017 allowed her to help design a curriculum that included active play and enrichment. During her time as a student teacher for second graders in spring 2018, Amanda implemented lesson plans for all academic areas.

She described her Eastern Experience as "unlike anything else. I know that if I had gone to any other university that I would not have been able to have had the experiences I had while at ENMU. My class sizes were small, which made it possible to get to know my professors on a more personal level. This made it possible to succeed in any opportunity I was given."

Amanda presented research at several conferences during her time at Eastern, including the ENMU Student Research and Creativity Conference in 2016 and 2017, the USDA 2017 Principal Investigators Conference, the 2017 New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children Conference and the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Poster Presentation in 2017. She was named to the Dean's List in fall 2015, spring 2017 and spring and fall 2018.

She was inspired to pursue a degree in education after taking a "Ready, Set, Teach" class in high school that made her "fall in love with the classroom.

"Once I came to ENMU and continued with the courses and being inside classrooms, I knew I had chosen the correct path," shared the Greyhound Grad, who is a member of the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children.

amanda gonzales with fiance
Amanda with her fiancé, Rey Mendez.

Amanda's advice to students interested in her major is to "give it your all. Don't be afraid to ask questions or receive help, and to put yourself out there. Try new things and don't forget that you will constantly be learning new things in this field."

Her family has a history of being Greyhounds: her father graduated from ENMU with a degree in business, and her grandfather and several aunts, uncles and cousins attended Eastern. Amanda chose to go to ENMU because it "felt like home" when she first visited.

Amanda's father, Nick, is retired from the Army. Her family, including her mother, Regina, and three sisters, Nicole, Erica and Bella, moved to several locations when she was growing up, like Germany, Italy and San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated from high school.

Her role models are her parents. "They have given me everything I have ever needed and more. They constantly are pushing us girls (my sisters and I) to be the very best we can be each and every day. They love us unconditionally and are always there for us," she explained.

Amanda lives in Hutto, Texas (north Austin) with her fiancé, Rey Mendez, and her year-and-a-half-old puppy Ruger, a half-Golden Retriever and half-black lab mix.

She enjoys hiking with her dog, watching Netflix, skiing and going to the beach to fish with her fiancé.