Winter 2017

|  by Emell Derra Adolphus

Thinking Outside the Box

How learning to spend less time in the classroom helped recent OU graduate Annie Meinberg be a better student

If Annie Meinberg, BS ’16, could give herself a few words of wisdom in her freshmen year, “it would be to get involved sooner,” she said.

“Whenever there arises an opportunity to attend a student organization’s event, do that instead of stressing about homework.” That isn’t to say throw your classroom education out the window completely, Meinberg clarified. But sometimes it is the lessons learned outside the classroom that shape your education for a lifetime, she explained.

“In 10 years from now, I will probably remember that event more so than a grade I got on a paper,” said Meinberg, who graduated from Oakland University in December from the School of Education and Human Services with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.

Meinberg, having switched from a business major to education, thinks she would have found her love of teaching sooner had she been involved with more student activities.

“If I got involved earlier and surrounded myself with these enthusiastic people at Oakland University who are all into their majors and all the clubs that come with their majors, then I probably would have been more apt to get into the (teaching) program sooner," she said.

After initially not being very involved, Meinberg used the rest of her years at OU to make up for lost time. She served as student body president, student liaison to the board of trustees, participated in student congress as a legislator, worked as an orientation group leader, and studied abroad in Prague. There’s also her involvement with various intramural sports, serving as coaching assistant for the women’s basketball team, and various teaching assistant positions and mentorships she manages outside of OU.

"What I see Annie doing, all students have that capability” said Jean Ann Miller, director of the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, about Meinberg’s involvement. The center complements classroom curriculum with extracurricular activities, explained Miller, and Meinberg is the perfect example of a student who has taken full advantage of its supplemental offerings.

Student activities help build a strong connection between students before and after graduation, explained School of Education and Human Services Dean Jon Margerum-Leys, Ph.D.

"One thing I say a lot right now is: Teaching needs friends," said Dr. Margerum-Leys. “We have some challenges with a sense that teaching pales in comparison to other professions, so one of the things that we need is friends and ambassadors. And Annie really exemplifies that."

Using OU graduates as ambassadors for the University’s academic programs also presents an opportunity to determine how programs can be enhanced, Margerum-Leys added, opening the doors for recruiting outside and inside the university.

“Teaching is a valuable viable alternative and it’s one where, particularly if you’re a strong student like Annie, you might think about influencing the next generation of students,” he said.

This year, Meinberg will be focused on influencing adolescent minds after recently accepted two substitute-teaching positions in the cities of Troy and Berkley for an extended period. Elementary education, she said, is an “educational sweet spot.”

(Students) still love school, they love their teachers and their friends in class,” she explained. “(Students) get excited about anything if you can bring enthusiasm to it,” and it’s a challenge Meinberg learned to love by participating in student activities at OU.

“It just solidifies my decision to initially go into teaching back when I changed my major because every day I walk away with a smile on my face.”