Student Profile - Kayleigh Romero
Kayleigh Romero enjoys education as student and teacher
For Kayleigh Romero, a junior at Lamar University, the decision to pursue a career in education was made in the summer of her sophomore year of high school.
“I wanted to work somewhere where every day I’d have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Romero.
Romero found her calling at Lamar even before she enrolled as a student. Thinking she wanted to be an engineer, Romero volunteered for the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, a free residential camp hosted at Lamar for science, technology, engineering and mathematics for middle school honor students from Southeast Texas.
While working as a counselor, Romero realized that working with children was what she enjoyed most about the experience.
“We had a robotics experiment with Legos where the students had to build and activate a robotic car, and they were intent that they could not do this thing. But when they finally figured out the programming, you could see it in their eyes,” said Romero. “You can see it in their face when they all of a sudden understand something and they realize, ‘Oh, I could pursue this as a possible career; this is something I can use in my future.’”
Upon graduation from West Brook High School in Beaumont in 2009, Romero was awarded a Mirabeau Scholarship from Lamar and entered as a major in mathematics with plans to teach at the high school level.
“In education, you always have that opportunity to open young minds to new ideas and experiences. Students spend a majority of their days in the classroom, so teachers hold the ability to lead students in different directions. Everybody can name at least a few of their best and worst teachers,” Romero said. “There are those who caused them to despise a certain subject, and then there are those who helped nurture them in their experiences. My challenge as a mathematics teacher will be to provide a learning environment that is challenging and exciting so that when students leave my classroom, they can’t wait to come back the next day.”
After her first semester, Romero decided she wanted to work with younger students and switched her major to interdisciplinary studies in 4-8 math.
“I like the way you can work with students at that age level,” Romero said. “They’re more receptive when you’re trying to introduce new challenging concepts. Mathematics is what I’m interested in, and lots of kids will tell you math is their least favorite subject, but usually it’s just a personal thing. They don’t like their math teacher, so they don’t like math. I want to try to break that cycle and show them that math can be fun.”
Romero said that her goal in teaching is to help her students open themselves to subjects they might not initially be interested in.
“It’s impossible to think that every person will be interested in every subject,” said Romero. “But a master teacher should connect a student to the subject matter in a way that transforms an uninterested student into one who at least appreciates and understands the subject by getting them involved and participating. Many times, students realize that they may actually have an interest in a subject they believed they detested.”
Romero said the education program at Lamar has been integral in developing her commitment to her career as an educator.
“I really appreciate that Lamar has worked so hard to get us into the local school districts for us to experience what teaching is all about. I was able to teach a Junior Achievement course as early as my first semester, allowing me to actually teach and make sure this was my calling. For me, this was a point of no return experience – is teaching for me or not? I’ve already had over 60 observation hours, and having experienced the reality of real-world teaching beforehand, to me, is essential so that defeat does not tread on success. If a teacher fails, students fail. You have to know that you can be there to support your students.”
As for her own experience as a student, Romero feels she has received a well-rounded education from Lamar. In addition to her math and education courses she has enjoyed electives in martial arts, popular music, tap dance and Asian literature.
“College is a time to broaden your boundaries and explore your interests,” she said. Romero has always enjoyed sketching and painting, and recently added piano and sewing to her interests.
“With my sewing lately I’ve gotten really into stuffed animal design,” she said. Her dorm room on campus is decorated with her collection of handmade stuffed animals including a flamingo, shark, octopus, even ice cream cones and fruits. “All different forms of art serve as a creative outlet for me. They allow me to unwind and express myself. There is always something new to explore.”
In addition to fulfilling her pedagogy observation requirements, keeping her grades up and pursuing her artistic hobbies, Romero also currently serves as vice president of the Honors Student Association and is a Lamar Ambassador.
“I have had so many opportunities open up for me here. The generosity of the donors who support the Mirabeau Scholarship has helped so much, because that covers everything for me – tuition, fees, food, board, my books, my supplies – and I can’t think of anything that could make college better than not having to worry about debt while I’m in school. Also, being a Lamar Ambassador has allowed me to meet so many people and promote Lamar wherever I go.”
Romero is now lead senior counselor for the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, the gO Women for Engineering, Science and Technology Academy (gO W.E.S.T.), and the golden Opportunities for Southeast Texas Construction Career Academy (gO SETX) summer camps. She works as a student assistant for the camps' executive director, Otilia Urbina, research assistant professor of professional pedagogy at Lamar. Romero hopes to graduate in Spring 2013 with plans to enroll in Lamar’s online masters in education program and, upon completion, pursue her doctorate in education.