During her senior year at Tenafly High School in New Jersey, Allison Hawkins found that many of her classmates had plans to head off to big schools in big cities.
And the big city wasn’t that far away. In fact, Allison could see the skyline of New York City from her window at home, and she went into the Big Apple every Saturday for music lessons from the time she was in the third grade until the eighth grade.
As for her own college search, Allison says she was looking for a university that offered a sense of community. She had family members living in the South, and with her dad and step-mother residing in Jonesborough, East Tennessee State University was not only the right size but the right place. In addition to being accepted to ETSU, she received a Fine and Performing Arts Scholarship through the Honors College.
“People may find this hard to believe, but I am a very shy person,” Allison says. “When I arrived at ETSU, I did not know one person.”
That, of course, changed in a matter of days. In addition to participating in the Preview program, Allison signed up for Rush Week and later received an invitation to join Sigma Kappa sorority.
There, she made friends for a lifetime.
“Many of the people I met that first semester during Preview and in Sigma Kappa five years ago are still my close friends today,” she said.
In addition to providing her the opportunity to meet some wonderful people, Allison says being part of a Greek organization has allowed her to become engaged with the community through various outreach efforts, such as working with the Alzheimer’s Association, helping with a local senior citizens group, and being part of cleanup projects.
She also appreciates the leadership opportunities she has been given. During her second year as a member of Sigma Kappa, she was placed in charge of recruitment.
And though she came to ETSU uncertain about what her friendship circles would be like, she was definitely certain about her career objectives.
“Long before I became a Buccaneer, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Allison said. “My mom is a music teacher, and I have been around kids all my life. I would even help her teach some of her classes.”
Allison is majoring in early childhood education and is in her final year of studies.
“The Clemmer College of Education is an outstanding school,” Allison says. “One of the things I appreciate the most about the curriculum is that the professors get students into the classroom from the very beginning of the program. That experience is very helpful as you are getting started.”
For her senior thesis project in the Honors College, Allison conducted a study on the effects of music and synchrony on the development of empathy in children ages 24-36 months. In addition to fulfilling her thesis requirement, the study also earned Allison a first-place award in ETSU’s Appalachian Student Research Forum. She was also featured in a front-page story in the Johnson City Press about her research project.
Allison graduates in May 2014 and says she can’t wait to start teaching full time.