Today we speak with Jacob Emig, a senior chemistry major pursuing a master’s degree in education as part of a five-year program at Rowan. Jacob transferred to Rowan from Rowan College at Burlington County and commutes to campus from his home in Marlton, NJ (Burlington County).
Why did you choose Rowan?
I went to Rowan College at Burlington County, and I knew a lot of my courses would automatically transfer over to Rowan, which made the financial aspect much better. I commute from home, which isn’t too far from Rowan, which makes it easier. My drive is usually around 30 to 40 minutes. I try to schedule my classes for two or three days a week, and stay on campus pretty much all day. This allows me to also work on the days when I don’t have classes.
What inspired you to choose chemistry and education?
I went into the chemistry major directly set on teaching — the end goal was to become a chemistry teacher the whole time. I studied autobody at a trade school, and I loved that, but I also had a love for chemistry and teaching in high school. Teaching came naturally to me, and I thought it could be a very rewarding career.
I am in the Combined Advanced Degree Program (CADP) with a BA in science for chemistry and a master’s in education, part of the five-year program. Over the past four years, I’ve been taking chemistry courses with some education classes mixed in, and next year I’ll be student teaching as part of the requirements for my master’s degree. I’ll be student teaching at a high school with students in the class probably ranging from freshmen to seniors.
How do you think your Rowan education will benefit your student teaching experience?
What I learned at Rowan will definitely benefit me. You usually don’t get the chance to understand teaching until you’re actually in the classroom environment. A lot of my courses explain how students learn information and the most beneficial ways of teaching, and it’s all helpful information. I was talking to one of my old high school teachers, and she suggested definitely going for a master’s and gaining that student-teaching experience. It’s very helpful to have a teacher guiding you as you learn your way through navigating the classroom and its challenges.
Tell us about your favorite class in your major that might have had an impact on your studies.
I had a lot of fun chemistry classes because I just find [chemistry] interesting. A lot of them go into in-depth studies, and my professors are great. My favorite is the one I am wrapping up this semester, STEM Teaching and Research Methods. I was disappointed it was transitioned to an online format because of Covid-19, because it’s a very discussion-based class. We talk about how students learn and the things to keep in mind while teaching. It’s given me a perspective that people wouldn’t normally think about while teaching, like the way you approach a lesson, and the ways you can answer a question. I got to see the opinions of not only my professor but also my classmates.
Have you had any mentors or faculty role models to guide you?
Professors can really influence your experience as a future educator. Professor Trevor Smith is always encouraging to us as students and seems to genuinely enjoy his job. He’s passionate about his subject matter, and being in his class and seeing the way he teaches and seeing how excited he was about teaching was inspiring.
Any advice for future educators?
When you get into the higher level STEM courses, they can become pretty difficult. If you’re in the field more for the teaching side, it can seem like more work than necessary to become a teacher. But if you’re passionate and genuinely care about helping students and making an impact in their lives, it’s definitely worth it in the end. You just have to put in the work to get you there.
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