Future Teacher Thrives on Touching Others' Lives
In today's world, compassion and the happiness of others aren't always seen as goal-setting initiatives, but then Stephanie Foran is her own pace setter.
The energetic, self-motivated UConn senior has devoted her off-campus life to a myriad of innovative community projects that raises the bar on any organization's social agenda.
"I try to put myself in other people's shoes," says Foran, an honors student who will receive her B.S. degree in elementary education this month. "I like to see how much happiness one can bring to others."
For Foran, that happiness can be especially found on the eager faces of children whose small worlds have been made bigger through her help.
She has been a best buddy to a person with mental retardation, a mentor to a Laotian child, a conversational partner for four Korean students over a two-year period, a tutor to a fourth grader, and the initiator of an elementary school cultural Spanish program. As a conversational partner, Foran accompanied the Korean students to concerts and cultural events and helped them understand American expressions and idioms.
These activities and more earned her the University's nomination this spring for a Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Award.
During her senior year at UConn, she developed a Spanish program at the Robertson Elementary School in Coventry.
Launching the program became one of her greatest challenges. "At first, I didn't think I could get the program going," says Foran. "I couldn't get any students to volunteer."
Then she approached the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center for a guest speaker and that served as the catalyst to launch the program.
More than a dozen students volunteered and traveled to the Coventry school to tutor third and fourth graders. During a seven-week period, the corps of student volunteers brought in guest speakers and provided music, cassettes, worksheets and games to bring meaning to the Spanish language and culture.
Foran will return to the University in the fall to complete her integrated bachelor's/master's program in education.
She's still exploring the direction her educational career is headed. "I'm happiest working with school children, but I feel as if I'm neglecting someone if I'm not working individually with a student," says Foran.
Her solution: to create a special one-on-one educational program.
And that may not be too difficult for this extraordinary UConn graduate.
At least, that's how Diane Wright, coordinator of the Center for Community Outreach, sees it.
"Stephanie has tremendous passion and commitment," says Wright. "I've watched her in many roles. She has great potential."