Rawdon Marroquin, junior

Teachers inspire 'fellow' to pursue his passion
Friday, March 22, 2013
by Susan King

The N.C. Legislature eliminated funding to its ambitious teacher recruitment initiative called Teaching Fellows in 2012, but Rawdon Marroquin slipped in just in time.

The sophomore history education major is making a big impact at Appalachian State University. He's an example of the kind of future teacher Appalachian continues to recruit with its own version of this leadership program.

He chose to attend Appalachian after he had already visited most every other campus in the University of North Carolina system.

"Some of them were great," Marroquin said, "but when I first arrived in Boone and stepped onto the Appalachian campus, I knew that I would do anything and everything possible to come to school here. It reminded me of how I am to people -- warm and welcoming."

Marroquin, from Newton, was also accepted at N.C. State University and UNC-Charlotte.

As a member of the freshman class of 2011, Marroquin received a scholarship from the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, established in 1986 and widely considered to be one of the most ambitious teacher recruitment initiatives ever established.

Marroquin's timing could not have been better. The following year, the N. C. Legislature did not include funding for the program in its yearly allocations, and the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Commission did not award scholarships to college freshmen for the 2012-13 academic year.

However, all existing Teaching Fellows scholarships will continue to receive the scholarship until graduation. The teaching fellows commit to teach in North Carolina public schools for four years after they graduate from college to repay the scholarship.

Currently, three classes of teaching fellows are enrolled at Appalachian. The group that entered in 2012 is called the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars. Appalachian Educators is the umbrella organization for teaching fellows, ACES and other education majors.

According to the program website (http://www.teachingfellows.org), the average teaching fellow has an SAT score of more than 1100, a high school grade point average of 4.0 or more on a weighted scale and a rank in the top 10 percent of his or her high school graduating class.

Teaching fellows participate in an academically and culturally enriched experience that extends beyond the traditional teacher education model. Rather than wait until their junior year, these students have the opportunity to go into different public school classrooms during most semesters of their college career.

As a second semester sophomore, Marroquin has had field experience at Cove Creek Elementary School and Watauga High School, and he will be visiting his home high school, Newton-Conover, in the future.

"I feel called to be an educator because I had two very influential teachers in high school," Marroquin said. "Mrs. Donna Schronce was my honors and advanced placement teacher for history. I've always been fascinated by history. Understanding where we came from -- as a people and as a nation -- is very important. Mrs. Schronce inspired me, because she shared her knowledge of history so passionately with students."

"I have my biology teacher and swim coach, Mr. Kirby Overcash, to thank for teaching me determination and pushing me to my limits -- and beyond -- during swim season," he said. In the course of internships with Schronce and Overcash, Marroquin learned what he wanted to do with his life.

He also took some direction from above. "I love looking at the stars," Marroquin said. "They are so beautiful. They show us that we are not as big as we think we are."

Marroquin's parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador and Mexico.

You might say they are his North Star. "Along with my older brother, Brian, my parents are my biggest role models," Marroquin said. "Without their example, I would not be the hard working, caring and determined person I am today.

"They came from almost nothing -- my mom was a refugee during a time of war -- and yet they made a new life here and raised two children, both of whom are now in college."

"Sometimes," Marroquin said, "it's hard to hear that we immigrants should not have come to this country. I have always given my best to show that, no matter where you come from, you can still be great."

Janice Koppenhaver, assistant director of Appalachian's Teaching Fellows, said, "Rawdon jumped into Appalachian with both feet. In high school, he was heavily involved in many activities, from drama club to competitive swimming. As a college student, he has taken on the challenge of visiting high schools in Catawba and Burke counties to recruit students from populations that are underrepresented at Appalachian."

And, she said, "He is so friendly. He always has a warm, welcoming smile and we know he will be a wonderful teacher and coach."

In addition to his studies, Marroquin is a resident advisor in Appalachian Heights residence hall, a member of the Appalachian Popular Programming Society and the Hispanic Student Association, and he has applied to become an Appalachian ambassador.

On Friday nights from 6 to 8, you'll find him dancing with the Appalachian Swing Dance Club in the Linville Falls Room of Plemmons Student Union.

Marroquin confesses that time management is a challenge.

So far, he seems to have things well in hand.

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