The College of Education recognized two promising new teachers for their achievements with the Delta Kappa Gamma/Lyla Vaughn Award: Leslie Harris, who never imagined becoming a teacher until she became a parent, and Erica Hamm-Clark, a first-generation college graduate.

Both said the College of Education provided them with welcoming faculty and a wealth of hands-on experiences that prepared them for their future classrooms.

Harris graduated in May at age 37 with a degree in elementary education after changing career paths from advertising and graphic design to education. She was inspired by volunteering at her older daughter’s elementary school, which she found fulfilling.

“It was a huge sacrifice for my family, but it will pay off intrinsically,” Harris said of returning to college for a new degree. “I know I made the right choice.”

Hamm-Clark, who entered the workforce right out of high school, didn’t think college was an option financially or academically; no one in her family had attended.

When she became a mother, she began questioning her future, and like Harris, enrolled in the College of Education. At age 29, she earned her degree in secondary education.

Her employer, Dr. Gregory Quinlan, allowed her the opportunity to leave work and go to class, and faculty members didn’t mind her bringing her children to class in a pinch.

“There’s not one thing I regret,” Hamm-Clark said, “except to have done it earlier.”