First-year elementary education major Elysse Waka has always had her sights set on attending the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Thornton native has always been equally committed to working with kids. When she sat down with a high school teacher to explore her options for college, she was delighted to discover the CU Boulder School of Education was waiting for her.
“I found out there was a whole School of Education for my major,” Waka said “I thought ‘this is perfect!’”
Waka is one of 34 incoming first-year students enrolled in CU Boulder School of Education’s two new undergraduate majors: the Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and the Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Community Engagement.
The new majors were strategically designed to offer important new pathways for students interested in serving high-needs communities and working with youth, and the degree programs are innovative in their own rights.
The new Elementary Education degree, with the added support of the school’s longstanding teacher licensure programs, comes at a time when addressing Colorado’s and the nation’s growing teacher shortages is imperative, particularly in high-needs areas. The degree stands out among peer programs, because candidates will earn their degree in conjunction with the in-demand Culturally and Linguistically Diverse education endorsement.
Similarly, the Leadership and Community Engagement degree supports students on their path to meaningful and sought-after careers in non-profit and community sectors, such as higher education, international development, urban planning, social work, and government. The degree stands out as the only degree programs of its kind in Colorado and part of a small number of emerging community engagement degrees nationwide.
Both degree programs harness existing strengths and resources within the School of Education, which is widely recognized for its evidence-based academic programs and its commitments to diversity, democracy, equity, and justice.
The first-year students in both degree programs have the added benefit of learning together and enrolling in several similar courses, such as School and Society and Step up to Social Justice. While the new cohorts are starting small, the five-year plan includes projections for growth.
For now, students like Waka are enjoying the close-knit community and combined courses that have welcomed her.
“My education courses are so interesting, and I love the readings,” she said. “I like how small it is here. My friend is an international affairs major, and she is not getting to know her classmates the way we are getting to know one another.
“With us, we can all grow together.”
Learn more about our undergraduate degree programs