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Valerie Rand

Valerie Rand
Year: Senior
Major: Special Education – Cross Categorical
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
 
Valerie Rand seems like your typical college senior. She is intelligent, vibrant, and motivated. What truly sets Rand apart and the reason she is a campus celebrity is what she strives to accomplish with her education. Just recently Rand was a recipient of the Erasmus Circle Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded throughout the school of education to an elite group of professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The basis for the scholarship is acknowledging those who have made a difference in the education field or that have the potential to make a difference. Professor Dr. Loren Gratz nominated Rand but then it was up to her to fill out the application and be chosen by a formal committee as a recipient. HerCampus dove into the mind of Rand as she explained her accomplishments thus far and those she strives to achieve.
 
HC: How did you feel when you were nominated for this scholarship?
Rand: I really didn’t know what to say at first. I also didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I got a letter from the foundation. My mom and grandma came for the reception and it was honestly such a big honor.
 
HC: What made you want to major in special education?

Rand: I originally wanted to go into social work but was advised to go a different career path and then merge into social work so I wouldn’t get burnt out early on. I’ve always been interested in the study of behaviors and wanted to help children with more difficulties than the average child. I have a cousin who is my age that has severe disabilities and she’s been a huge part of my life. I also worked at a preschool all throughout high school and had involvement with the boys and girls club and homeless shelters. Being involved with different camps and preschools as well as best buddies, a program that gives you the opportunity to mentor a young adult with disability, is really what got me interested in teaching. Special education seems to have been under my nose the whole time but I really made the decision my sophomore year of college that this was what I wanted to do.
 
HC: What has been the most influential experience you’ve had with teaching at UA?
Rand: Last year I was in the same special education resource room for the entire year and seeing the progress that students made was amazing. I saw a phonics program implemented over the year and there were a couple kids who knew only two out of 26 letters of the alphabet when we started. After a few months they knew them all, seeing that was huge. I see kids everyday with struggles that are a million times worse than anything I’m dealing with in my life and it really makes me appreciate the little things. It can be really hard but I am so motivated by the significant influence teachers can have for these kids.
 
HC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Rand: I’m not sure of the location that I’ll be in but ideally I would be teaching in a resource room, special education, with my masters in either emotional behavioral or moderate disabilities. I want to be pushing the limits for special education to evolve in a positive way.
 
HC: What are your goals for the long haul?
Rand: In the long run I want to be involved in social work and work with the population of children with special needs in foster care. I think the acceptance in schools and in daily life can really be upgraded. A lot of students with behavioral problems may come across malicious and say things that baffle you but you really have no idea what they’ve gone through. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they don’t have amazing qualities in other ways. I would never look at disabilities as deficits or weaknesses, when it comes down to it we may be different but we’re also very much the same.
 
HC: What might people not know about you?
Rand: I struggled in school as a kid. It lowered my self-esteem because I didn’t have the best experiences academically. I’ve always tried really hard and was able to branch out and be more outgoing in high school. Even though I wasn’t always the greatest at things, I still tried and am secretly a huge geek.
 
HC: Why did you choose University of Arizona?
Rand: Before I came to Arizona I didn’t know a single person on the west coast. I wanted something new.
 
HC: What advice would you give to your peers?
Rand: Find out what it is that you’re really passionate about and go head first into it. Don’t give up when the going gets tough, if you really try, you can achieve it.
 
Valerie Rand could not be a more appropriate recipient for the Erasmus Circle scholarship. She has more than enough potential to achieve her goals and ultimately make a difference in the world. Rand’s dedication to improving lives and the minds of our society is courageous and honorable, for that, HerCampus recognizes Valerie Rand as a campus celebrity and an overall amazing person. This surely will not be the last of her accomplishments. 

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