The University of Georgia
Jennings, Desiree

UGA's Amazing Students

Desiree Jennings

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December 5, 2005

Senior Desiree Jennings loves children. She has spent her summers working with children who are in occupational therapy, and she is working toward a degree and teaching certificate in early childhood education. A recent newlywed, she is planning to have a large family of her own and says she realizes from her own work and studies that raising well-balanced, compassionate, service-oriented children is not an easy task! After she graduates this semester, she plans to work part-time, with children, of course, while she researches and applies for jobs in the Atlanta Public School District. She would like to begin teaching in her own classroom next fall.

Expected graduation:

December 2005

Degree objective:

B.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Spanish

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I've been a member of the African-American Choral Ensemble (AACE) since my sophomore year. AACE is a university ensemble composed of a diverse group of students, and we perform gospel and spiritual music written and composed primarily by African-American artists. Being in AACE has been one of the most uplifting and rewarding of all my UGA experiences. I also had the opportunity to dance with the Pamoja Dance Company for two semesters. I love Pamoja because it's open to all kinds of dancers, no matter the experience, training, or style they have, and because the members choreograph and perform all the pieces. I've had an incredible time both watching and performing in Pamoja's diverse, creative and energetic shows.

Hometown:

Stone Mountain, Georgia (mostly)

High School:

Tucker High School

Current Employment:

I work with a pediatric occupational therapist in Decatur during the summers. I have worked with her for the past three years. We work with children with various types (auditory, visual, tactile, emotional, social, etc.) and levels (mild, moderate, severe) of special needs. During each session, we take the children hiking and rock climbing, which provides them with fun and challenging gross motor work, and later we engage them in activities focused on developing and improving their fine motor skills. We also try to help them understand their own sensory needs and how those needs affect their emotions and behavior. We also help them learn how to handle those needs best when they are affected. Working with this program has been an amazing and invaluable learning experience.

I chose to attend UGA because...

...I’d heard wonderful things about the early childhood program, and it was most important to me that I attended a university that would support, assist and encourage me to become the best teacher I could be. Also, after having spent nearly a year overseas, I wanted to be close to my family.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

...see movies and play pool at Tate, walk thorough any of the gardens, and catch any live music, drama, or dance performance.

When I have free time, I like...

...to try out new restaurants, read, go out dancing, and spend time with friends and family.

The craziest thing I've done is...

...gone to live in a country (Venezuela) where I didn’t know the language or any people right after graduating high school. I lived there for eight months, working with Venezuelan youth and giving “virtues” classes to children in small communities in different parts of the country. It was the most daring and one of the single most rewarding experiences of my life.

My favorite place to study is...

...Barnes and Noble. When I’m around so many books and so many other people reading, all I can do is work or study.

My favorite professor is...

...Jacqueline Saindon. I took an ELAN course with her, one of the three that can be taken to get an ESOL certification. Somehow, she was able to crete an environment in which 20+ incredibly different students felt comfortable enough to have candid,open and calm discussions about racism, stereotypes, and cultural miscommunications. She was amazing.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

...Mary Maxwell, who was also known as Rhuhiyyih Khanum. She was an awe-inspiring, though largely unknown, humanitarian who lived during the twentieth century and who, throughout her lifetime and right into her elder years, visited nearly 200 countries, spending large amounts of time in rural or impoverished villages. I would love to discuss her journeys and experiences with her and learn more about her devotion to humanity.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

...have lots and lots of children! I just got married on May 21, 2005, and lately my husband and I have been discussing children and our future family. I definitely want to have more than one child, but after having learned so much about children through education and experience, I realize more and more what an incredible challenge it is to be a parent. I think if I knew for sure that I could raise several well-balanced, compassionate, service-oriented children, I’d want to do it.

After graduation, I plan to...

...take a semester to find a part-time job at a children’s gym and research schools in the Atlanta public school system. Hopefully this will help me decide where I’d like to apply to teach so I can begin teaching full-time by the fall of 2006.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

...the “snow day” during spring semester of 2004. I remember waking up at 6:00 to go to my 8:00 class, looking out my window, and seeing snow—not just flurries, but real snow! The resulting day was like something out of elementary school: people were seeing snow for the first time, tossing snow out of the 7th floor windows, piling up in pick-ups and drive-by snowballing, and the R.A’s were getting really annoyed. It was a great day.