Headshot of Ashley Gans
Behind the Desk of a Future STEM Teacher
Ashley Gans

It is not common for an Engineer student to forgo industry and choose a career in education, public school education at that. However, this is exactly what current Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) student Ashley Gans decided to do. 

Originally from Ocala, Florida, Ashley decided to beat the heat and move to Texas for her college experience. For her undergraduate degree, she went to Southern Methodist University (SMU) and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. Like most students, Ashley had a summer job and worked as a Head Summer Camp Counselor where she discovered how much she loved working with kids. “I wanted to find a way to blend my love of engineering with my desire to work with children,” Ashley said. 

Ashley voiced this desire to her Engineering Professional Development professor at SMU. She recalls, “he looked me straight in the eyes and said if you want to work with kids, you need to get a Master in Education and work as a STEM teacher. There will be nothing more rewarding for you than a job in Education.” This conversation motivated Ashley to search for degree programs that resulted in not only a master, but also a teaching certificate. This is how she found Trinity. 

Even though Ashley was nervous to leave Engineering, she knew that Trinity’s MAT program was right for her after talking to Angela Breidensteinien, professor and chair of the Education Department. “With just a week left to apply and only one semester to get the pre-requisites, Dr. B's passion for the program and dedication to helping me succeed made me feel confident that the Trinity MAT program would be the best next step,” Ashley said. 

Ashely was excited to be a student at Trinity and to experience a new city. “Trinity's small cohort model gave me the confidence that even though I would be in a completely new place, I would have a built-in-family through the program!” she said. 

Since being in the program, Ashley appreciates the emphasis the department places on establishing a sense of community. She is also grateful for the social and emotional support the program offers. At the beginning of every class, they start of with a social-emotional check-in, which promotes individual and collective well-being, community, vulnerability and trust amongst the cohort. The classes are also filled with team building exercises that make Ashley feel like she is a part of a tight-knit Trinity family. “This program molds to any learner,” Gans said. “The professors will meet you where you are and support you on your academic and professional journey. Nothing is done for you, but with you.”

Ashley feels like the program opened her mind to understanding education and equity best practices. She also began to connect to the art of teaching in a new and different way.

“My understanding, interactions, and mindset have all improved immensely because of my decision to do the MAT program, and I would implore anyone who is even slightly interested in working with kids to consider the program!” Ashley said. 

After graduating from the program Ashley plans to get a teaching job at either a middle school or high school level in math or physics. She is currently in the process of deciding which level and subject she likes best.

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