This week we are taking a look behind the desk of undergraduate Piper Swearengin, who is a junior majoring in psychology, with a minor in education at Trinity University. When Piper moved from her hometown of Austin to San Antonio she did not plan on pursuing education, and solely focused on psychology. However, during her first semester in fall 2019, she saw a flyer for an education class that piqued her interest, and decided to take it just for fun.
This class was called Seminar in Urban Education Policy and Practice. In class, the students did site visits to different schools in the area, and Piper realized she loved exploring different school settings. “That class is kind of the reason why I decided to minor in education,” Piper said. “And I really just fell in love with the school setting and since then have been trying to think about how to integrate psychology and education.”
Piper has enjoyed her time in the education program, and finds the classes both fun and engaging. One of the most valuable things Piper has learned through her education classes is how to be a more inclusive teacher and person. She has learned how there are different types of learners and how one teaching style does not work for everyone. “I have applied this knowledge to what I’ve learned in life” she said. “Overall, anyone who takes an education class probably becomes a more inclusive student, a more inclusive ally, a more inclusive tutor.”
Piper is currently enjoying an education class called the Natural Environment. It is both an education and environmental studies course that is taught by Drs. Allen and Crim. So far the class field trips have included visiting different green spaces like the San Antonio Zoo Preschool and Guadalupe River State Park. “It's my favorite because it's so interesting,” she said. “You basically learn about nature and all the benefits, but also how to implement different greenspaces for children, for marginalized communities.”
One unique feature of this class is it introduces students to the benefits of natural environments on human health and well- being. Education faculty are in tune with the rising concerns in mental health, and are intentional of the type of spaces they create in their classroom. “Out of all the classes I have ever taken, education professors, I think, show that they care the most about students' mental health,” Piper said. “Like always doing check-ins and if things need to be extended because a semester is crazy, just stuff like that.”
As a psychology major, Piper has noticed how many concepts from her field are reinforced in education. “A lot of classes in education overlap with psychology, and then psychology classes overlap with education all the time, which I love because I’m like, ‘oh I learned about this in this class and am learning about it again!’” Piper’s enjoyment in this overlap has motivated her to look into Trinity’s graduate program School Psychology.
Only a junior, she still has plenty of time to decide which path to take after graduation!