Elina Tsalyn is majoring in early childhood education with PreK-grade 3 licensure at Eastern New Mexico University and plans to teach at an elementary school after graduating in fall 2022.
Elina was born and raised in Ukraine, where she lived with her mother and three brothers until 2015 when she moved to the United States to work as an au pair. She lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Seattle, Washington, before moving to Portales, New Mexico, when she transferred to ENMU.
The University caught Elina's eye due to the affordability and the quality of the Education Program. She adds, "After living in Seattle for four years, I also wanted to move somewhere with as little rain as possible, and New Mexico seemed like a great choice."
She is enjoying life as a Greyhound and appreciates how "friendly and welcoming everyone at ENMU is."
The senior says that all the professors she's had at Eastern have been "very supportive," especially Dr. Cindy Benge, an assistant professor of reading. "Dr. Benge has gone out of her way to make me feel welcomed in her class," says Elina. "From the very first day of class, it was evident how much she cared about the success of her students. She has shown so much compassion and kindness towards me and has truly inspired me to continue my journey of becoming a teacher."
When asked what inspired her choice of major, Elina shares that she has "always loved working with children, first, as a volunteer at an orphanage in Ukraine, and later as a preschool teacher in Seattle, and I would love to start teaching at an elementary school level."
She continues, "I can't wait to have a classroom full of curious little minds that I can, hopefully, inspire and empower. The causes I am most passionate about are equity and equality, and I want to make sure that every single child in my classroom learns to appreciate their differences and feels valued."
Elina also dreams of opening an English language school for orphans in small cities in Ukraine. She explains, "The orphanage I volunteered at didn't have many opportunities for children to learn and practice English, and I would like to ensure they are not left out."
She is making the most of her time at ENMU to accomplish her goals: Elina serves as the vice president of Educators Rising, a student organization for future educators, and has worked in the Golden Student Success Center (GSSC), her favorite building on campus, since January 2021. She started her role as a supplemental instructor (SI) at the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
The dean's list honoree is the recipient of several ENMU Foundation scholarships and was awarded an International Student Tuition Waiver.
The class that has stood out the most to Elina so far is Technology for the Classroom. She says, "I didn't get to use much technology back when I went to school in Ukraine, and I love learning about all the new devices and apps I can incorporate in my classroom to make it more fun and interactive for the students."
She offers guidance to students interested in pursuing an education degree: "The biggest advice I would give is to make sure that teaching is what you really want to be doing. Our children deserve to have educators who genuinely care about their success and will ensure that each student gets good quality education. Not doing your best is a disservice to the students, their parents and the community. Teaching can be quite stressful at times but seeing kids have those 'aha!' moments when they finally understand a concept they'd been struggling with makes it all worth it."
Elina's hobbies center around staying active, such as biking, hiking, rock climbing and going to the gym. She used to box in Seattle and hopes to continue her training in Portales. On quiet days, she enjoys listening to music, reading and crocheting. She also loves to travel but hasn't been able to take trips lately due to the pandemic.